Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: G less in Seattle
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We have participated in Advent Gardens (sometimes called Advent Spirals or Soltice Spirals) in both Kindergarten and 1st grade.
In the Kindergarten ones, the event is usually held as close to the soltice as possible. This year it will be on December 20th. The whole family is invited and the teachers bring enough candles for younger and older siblings to participate. It is a very solemn and quiet festival. The families come in and sit down around the spiral. There is no angel as the center candle is already lit. Everyone sings solemn holiday songs from several religious traditons as the child walks the spiral with their candle. They light their candle from the center candle, find a gold star in the boughs and put their candle down in place of the gold star. The candles use apples as candle holders. The child then walks back out of the spiral and resumes their seat. The next child then goes. This year I think we are going to have harp music instead of singing which I have mixed feelings about. In Kidergarten, the teachers refer to the event as the Advent or Soltice Spiral. The teachers have told us that the reason for the festival was to kindle a piece of the light within ourselves on the darkest night of the year. It is a reminder of the coming light (longer days) and a time for reflection.
In 1st - 3rd Grade it is called the Advent Garden and it takes place the day after the first Sunday in Advent. An angle lit the center candle. The children basically performed the same task of lighting their candle. It didn't seem as solemn as the Kindergarten and the children were more rowdy, especially in the hall waiting to go in. We sang a song for each child as they walked and also a harpist played. No explanation for the festival was given. Perhaps they thought we were old hands at this. Also siblings were not given the chance to walk the spiral due to time constraints.
Overall, our family prefers the Kindergarten spiral and we look forward to it each year.