05 December 2015

Festival of Stones


Last year, a few days before Advent started, so many of the blogs I read posted about their Advent preparations.  I hadn't really given it much thought up until then, other than we could something......I had mixed feelings about it as I was not really sure what Advent meant to us as a family and it is already a busy time of year.  There are many festivals thoughout the year most of which are largely ignored.  Christmas and Advent are Christian festivals it seems somewhat hypocritical in a our increasingly secular society to be placing such a disproportionate weight on it, it seems to have lost its meaning and become all about buying and receiving.  This doesn't sit well with me either.

So, determined to make a better job of it this year, I started to think, a few weeks ago, about what we might do.  This might seem like I am placing alot of weight on it too, but I wanted it to be about celebrating and learning and I always give myself time to prepare for each project we do.  We are using the same framework this year as last, the Festival of Stones, which gives us a different focus each Advent week.  All of our projects fit around our usual weekly rhythm, we will however return to this one each year, so I can continue to refine it each year.


I love to read other blogs.  I find them inspiring and insightful on so many levels.  Occasionally I read about something that I would love to do too and I park it in my memory, and hope that it stays there, to wait for the right time.  I read a while ago now about a lovely ritual, drinking tea with proper cups and saucers and sharing poetry.  I thought this would fit rather well into our Advent project and the poems would be added to with stories and crafting.  The children love it.


So tea cups in hand and our advent candle lit, we read about what Advent means and the story from the lovely book, The Festival of Stones by Reg Down which I discovered last year.  It has stories for each week of Advent, in the first week the story centres around a festival where everyone brings a gifting stone, we arranged out own gifting stones on our seasonal table which we rearranged, removing some of the Autumny bits to make a bit of room.  The book basket is full of Wintery and Christmasy books.  Other reading we have done throughout the week is a book on all the traditions of Christmas that were introduced by the Victorians, a charming version of the Nativity story, a story about how it feels to be amongst people who celebrate Christmas when you don't, a Scottish folk tale about giving at Christmas time, a tale about loneliness at Christmas and a charming Astrid Lindgren story about a search for a Christmas tree.  We also read several poems about crystals, Christmas traditions, the Nativity, and Christmas trees.  We also relearnt the Advent song that we learnt last year.




Cameron has never been a huge fan of crafting that involves getting your hands dirty or sticky so it it not something we have ever done a huge amount of, I wanted to include some crafts and chose carefully so he could feel included.  He has loved them and has asked each evening what are we doing tomorrow.  We have made window rosettes, a pretty and simple cuff for our advent candle which does a good job of hiding the scruffy candleholder underneath, and some stars and snowflakes it took us a while to working out the folding bit from the instructions, that has never been my strong point.


We live in an area rich in geology, it is one of the most geologically diverse and mineral rich areas of the country.  For our Wednesday walk we went looking for an igneous intrusions that we had found on our geology map of the area.  Despite the continuous rain we have had here for the past month it kindly let up for the three hours we were out.  We found what we were looking for and the all the recent rain meant that the river that flows over it was a fairly full waterfall.  It was quite an adventure and we probably stopped to do a bit too much looking, we were fast running out of daylight on the final descent!


I managed to finish the play capes and the felt star decorations I shared earlier in the week and an extra unexpected afternoon at him meant that we have made a dent in the Christmas card making.



Next week is the Festival of Plants when will be doing more reading and crafting with a focus on the plant kingdom.  See you then! Have a lovely week.

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Apologies for the large number of big photos in this post, I had hoped to be able to put some collages together using my usual website but an update to our Apple software means that it is no longer possible until Apple fix a bug.  Don't you just love computers?

The photos are a bit on the dark side too it has been like twilight here all week. The seasonal table photo was taken at around 11am and the table is next to a really big window!

26 comments:

  1. I really love reading about other families' rituals at this time of year. My daughter's teacher actually does something very similar to the tea ritual with her class every year. Our school has an annual art and poetry night, where the students' art and writing are showcased in a very fancy way, like a real gallery. In the days before this event, my daughter's teacher holds a tea for her students where they drink herbal tea from real china cups and saucers and share their work with each other. They're very young children, between ages five and eight, and this allows them to see each other's work in a more intimate setting before the whole-school event later on. It's really lovely and you would not believe how careful these little ones are with their china! My son had this same teacher and in three years with her over two children, I have never seen a single broken cup or saucer. :)

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  2. What a wonderful way to celebrate. The stories you've read this week sound really interesting.

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  3. Love those sweet little cards. I love Astrid Lindgren's Tomten books.

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    1. Thank you :). We love the Tomten here too.

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  4. I love reading about other families' traditions too. Your own celebrations and Advent preparations are very thoughtful and meaningdul and like you I'm also put off by the commercialization of Christmas. It is much less so in the Philippines. It's still more about sharing and togetherness, being with your loved ones, and this is what we're trying to focus on in our family. The kids have their calendars with treats, but we also have an Advent guide from church to help us prepare for Christmas. We have prayers, Advent promises and crafting too. By the way, I like all the things you've made here especially the cards. They're brilliant!

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    1. Thank you Marion. It is about sharing and togetherness, I am sad that the focus has been lost.

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  5. we are atheists but i was brought up in a Christian home and we do an advent spiral and a nativity nature table, we have just developed this as part of our family tradition. I think there is something about the reflective nature of advent (and probably all of these festivals) that is pertinent to us whatever our beliefs. Thankfully there is so much information we can learn about these and take and adapt what is relevant and resonates for us.
    Love the making and hope you are all ok despite the storms and flooding that is about up north.

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    1. I do love the reflective nature of all the festivals, at this time of year it can be hard to shut out everything else particularly the commercialism.

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  6. your photos look fine to me, no worries. loved seeing what you are doing with your family this advent season.

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  7. I really like the idea of focusing on stone and then plant. Look forward to seeing what comes next. It does take a lot of thought to make this time meaningful and less commercially-led. We have a clutch of books that the children love to read each year, (Tomten included) and, of course, lots of crafting.

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    1. The idea has some root in Steiner/Waldorf methodology. I came across it online. I love the idea of the different focuses and how they are all important elements of our world.

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  8. Your Advent celebrations sound wonderful. I need to give more thought to ours, they seem a little contrived! I think I might try and get that book Festival of Stone and prepare something better for next year. I'm glad to hear your children enjoy this so much, I know they are roughly the same age as mine.
    Your waterfall picture is beautiful.
    Love the Christmas cards, we used a similar technic for ours!
    Thanks for sharing all the links, I'm going to have a wee look at them all now.

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    1. Ours were contrived too until I stumbled on this 'Festival' last year. You can make it into whatever you want it to be which is what attracted me too it. As the children grow older I can alter it to suit. I can recommend that book, it has stories for some of the Autumn festivals too.

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  9. This is such a lovely way to keep Advent. Inspiring!

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  10. Just beautiful - sounds like we spent our week celebrating in similar ways! xx

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    1. We did indeed. I love reading about how others do it too as it provides me with inspiration!

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  11. So beautiful! What lovely, intentional ways of celebrating. And that waterfall--amazing!!

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  12. What a wonderful week you all have had. I wish we could have joined you on your geological walk. We are lucky enough to live at the converging point of 3 huge geological areas here and we have several sites where you can see them touching each other.

    I'm checking out the book now. I might have to get it for next year! Thank you...

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