Ever since our oldest children were very little, we have been implementing an old monastic custom in our home of providing special treats, representing each of the "O Antiphons," on the days leading up to Christmas. Each night, after our family rosary, we pray the O Antiphon for the day, sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel (which was inspired by this ancient tradition), and then give the children a special treat. Some years it has been little gifts for the family, some years it is all food related, and some years it is a mix of both. You can see some of my past posts from 2007-2011 by scrolling through the archives and visiting Catholic Cuisine.
The picture above is from last year, but I have this year's gifts set aside or ordered, and I plan to wrap them soon (in gold wrapping paper for these "Golden Nights"), attaching the various O Antiphon Ornaments from Jesse Tree Treasures to each package. We'll pull out our O Antiphon House and (since I don't have any plans to deliver a baby this Advent!) I will probably include some extra treats at mealtimes as well.
The Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one - Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia - the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, “Tomorrow, I will come.” So the “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.The O Antiphon Prayers begin on December 17th and end on the 23rd, which is the last Vespers of Advent, since the evening prayer on the 24th is the Vigil of Christmas. Our family just loves this little tradition, and it is such a fun way to teach the children about these beautiful prayers of the church and also increase their excitement as Christmas gets closer! Here are the treats that I choose for this year:
.: December 17th :.
O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!
Since the symbol for wisdom is a book, I often choose a new Catholic Book for our family. This year I happened to run across this beautifully illustrated book at our local Catholic Book Store. I've been saving it for a special occasion and plan to wrap it up for the first of the O Antiphons this year!
In past years we have given the children Around the Year: Once Upon a Time Saints, the beautiful A Catholic Child's Picture Dictionar, Novena: The Power of Prayer, new children's prayer books for Mass, and a craft kit to make Christmas Bookmarks.
.: December 18th :.
O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!
This year I totally am streaching it and giving the kids the Little House on the Prairie DVD. My husband had bought it for me when it first came out (it was $29 back then and now it's only $4.99!!) and we all enjoyed it so much! Years ago we lost one of the (two) DVD's and it's just not the same watching only half the movie. The kids are going to be so excited!
.: December 19th :.
O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.
12 Red Glitter Poinsettia Ornaments and Miracle of the Poinsettia, so I ended up purchasing both (and wrapping them together) for this year's O Root of Jesse Antiphon gift.
In the past I have purchased our Poinsettia Plant for Christmas, new books including The Legend of the Poinsettia and The Miracle of the First Poinsettia, baked Poinsettia Cupcakes, made recipes with root vegetables including Hearty Beef Stew and Carrot Cake, given the kids Old Fashioned Root Beer Drops or served Root Beer.
.: December 20th :.
O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.
key hook rails from Target to use to hang our Rosaries!
This year Charlotte almost talked my into buying this awesome puzzle, but since I had already purchased Key Puzzle/Brainteaser!
.: December 21st :.
O Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!
Rainbow, Fire, Water Waves, Stone Cave, and the Little Flower Wooden Stacker. Rose will be receiving the Wooden Fairy Tale Village and Bud will be receiving the Stacking Birds for either Christmas or on their birthdays! When I ran across this set of blocks, I immediately thought it would be a perfect gift for this O Antiphon!
Other past ideas include a surprise trip to town (complete with mugs of Cocoa) to view Christmas Lights, decorating our own house or tree with Christmas lights, eating "O Dayspring Ice Cream," and adding the Kurt Adler 10-Light Candle with Gold Dish Light Set to our Christmas Tree!
.: December 22nd :.
O King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!
Earlier this year I finally ordered one of the beautiful sets of Three Kings Gifts! Every Christmas the kids put together a Christmas Play for their Daddy & I, and these will make such a fun and beautiful addition to their usual props!
Other years we have made Crowns, added a "King" puppet to our puppet collection, baked a Crown Cake and/or Cookies, added the King of the Golden City CD to our collection, and assembled the Three Kings Puzzle.
.: December 23rd :.
O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!For the last of this year's O Antiphons I ended up purchasing the beautiful 500-Piece Stained Glass Jigsaw Puzzle.
In the past the children have been given special Holy Cards or Coloring Books, including the beautiful Eucharistic Adoration: With Saints And Symbols Of The Eucharist Coloring book, added various Children's Nativity Sets to our collection, made a Chocolate Nativity Scene, and received the Holy Family Puzzle with a lovely embroidered Mass bag from Catholic Embroidery.
And, as I mentioned last year, you can listen to the O Antiphons beautifully chanted in Latin here or purchase the CD An Advent Processions Based on the Great O Antiphons. And don't forget the quick and easy O Antiphon Chocolate Coins, if you'd like a simple treat for each day!
Now that I have this checked off my list, it's time to wrap up this year's Advent and Christmas Books! I'm planning on sneaking in a few new ones (like this brand new Good King Wenceslaus) which I happened to discover (and couldn't resist purchasing) while I was out shopping last Friday!