Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Santa Lucia Day


Santa Lucia (St. Lucy) was a young Italian girl who was martyred for her faith in 304 AD. During Advent in Sweden, one of the biggest celebrations is Santa Lucia's Day originating from the stories told by the holy Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden. Traditionally ‘Lussekatter’, St. Lucia's Day Buns flavored with saffron and dotted with raisins, are served by a girl dressed in a white dress with a red sash around her waist and a crown of candles on her head.






As I mentioned over on Instagram, I wasn't able to make our annual Saint Lucia Braided Bread, a festive bread inspired by the candle-covered crown she is said to have worn to light her way as she brought food to the persecuted Christians hiding in the catacombs, last night or early this morning. It's the first time in ten years (look at the girls back in 2008!) that I haven't and I was feeling awful about it. Our children are all so great though... We woke up this morning to our twelve year old, who celebrates a nameday today, in the kitchen baking traditional Lussekatter (Lucia Buns) completely on her own! I’ve always wanted to make them and never have. She did an amazing job!




We may not have been able to light the candles on a Saint Lucia Braided Bread crown this year, but we did light real candles on the crown our daughter wore as she passed out the Lussekatter! 

It was beautiful!











Santa Lucia

Night walks with a heavy step round yard and hearth,
As the sun departs from earth, shadows are brooding. 
There in our dark house, walking with lit candles,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia! 

(Every year we give our daughter a little nameday gift to celebrate this special feast of one of her patron saints. This year it was a Santa Lucia Mug!)


"Early in the morning of December 13th, the oldest daughter in the family in Sweden has the privilege of being the Lucia, wearing a long white gown sashed in red, with a wreath of lingonberry leaves on her hair. Candles - now usually run on batteries - are set into the wreath. Her sisters wear white gowns with tinsel in their hair and around their waists. Boys in the family wear tall pointed hats with stars on them. The "Starboys" traditionally are associated with the three wise men. The children awaken their parents and offer them coffee, saffron-flavored buns called Lussekatter and ginger snaps, called pepparkakor." - Lucia Morning in Sweden

Lussekatter recipe from Lucia Morning in Sweden

Santa Lucia, ora pro nobis!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

O Antiphon Ornaments & Gift Package Giveaway


Ever since our oldest children were very little, we have been implementing an old monastic custom in our home by providing special treats, representing each of the "O Antiphons" on the days leading up to Christmas. 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.
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.
Each night, following 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.


The "treats" have varied from year to year. Some years it has been little gifts or activities for the family, some years it is all food related, and some years it is a mix of both, depending on our schedule and budget. It doesn't need to cost much or even anything at all! Be creative!

Sometimes the treats are a bit of a stretch, but my goal is try and find gifts that will either help increase our faith (Catechism books, holy family, saints, prayer, etc) or encourage family time (games, puzzles, going to look at Christmas lights, etc). You can find some of our past O Antiphon treats by scrolling through the archives and visiting Catholic Cuisine.

Our family loves this tradition. 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.

Once again I am hosting an O ANTIPHON GIVEAWAY! One lucky visitor here at Shower of Roses will receive a gift package which will include one complete set of O Antiphon Ornaments and one themed gift for each of the seven O Antiphons! Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to enter. 


I have listed each of the prizes below, as well as additional ideas (food, activities and gifts - or simply decorate chocolate coins) for each of the O Antiphons: 


.: 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!


O Sapientia (O Wisdom) - An Alphabet of the Altar
sponsored by St. Augustine Academy Press

Since the symbol for wisdom is a book, I usually choose a new Catholic book for our family. Last year I gave our family a copy of An Alphabet of the Altar which had just been reprinted by St. Augustine Academy Press.  It's a beautiful book and I highly recommend it! A copy will be included in the giveaway below!


"This is perhaps the most beautiful book we have come across in a long time, and it was a labor of love to reprint it for you. Each lavishly illustrated page is mesmerizing in its detail but even more so for its love of the beauty of our Faith. Printed in a deep, rich brown ink on cream paper, with a cloth hardcover and dimensional gold embossing, this is a book that will make you feel proud to be Catholic. Preorder yours today and save--this will make the perfect Christmas gift--even for those who already know their alphabet quite well."


Additional Ideas: 


Our children received An Alphabet of the Altar last Advent. This year they will be receiving the first two books in The Wonder Series: The Wonder Story and The Wonder Days from St. Augustine Academy Press. These sweet books for children are part of a set of four by the same author, which have been lovingly restored from the 1920s originals. Intended for little hands, they all have large, thick, durable pages (not quite a board book, but a step up) and lots of full color illustrations. The Wonder Story tells the tale of Christ’s coming to earth as a little child; this story is then continued in The Wonder Days, which shows us His Hidden Life in the home at Nazareth. (I'm saving the last two books in the series for Easter.) 


.: 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!


O Adonai (O Lord) - The Virgin Mary Around the World with two Marian Dolls: Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Czestochowa
sponsored by Shining Light Dolls

In the past we would emphasize the word "house" in this Antiphon, and have made our Gingerbread Houses or Gingerbread Cookies on this night.  Now that we have two birthdays this week (and two birthday cakes to bake and decorate!) we usually wait until Christmas Eve, or sometime during the 12 Days of Christmas to decorated Gingerbread Houses. We have also incorporated Moses and the Ten Commandments and roasted Marshmallows in reference to Moses and the burning bush. This year I'm planning to branch off a bit and see if the kids can figure out how this Marian themed gift relates to this O Antiphon. Then we can discuss the various names for Our Lady, including House of Gold!


Additional Ideas: 

We already have the picture book included in the giveaway, but our children will unwrap Our Lady of China and Our Lady of Vailankanni to add to our Shining Light Dolls collection


.: 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.


O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse) - Ishmael: The Shepherd Boy of Bethlehem
sponsored by Shower of Roses

From Jesse, the shepherd, to Jesus, the Good Shepherd...
I thought Shepherds would tie in nicely this year!


Additional Ideas:

This year our children will be unwrapping this darling Shepherd Puzzle Set made by Naturally Catholic to go along with the Nativity and Wise Men they received the last couple years. It's one of our boys' birthdays, so this gift doubles as a birthday gift too! 


.: 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.


O Clavis David (O Key of David) - 
Catholic Songs for Children CD and Sheet Music Book and St. Cecelia Doll 
sponsored by St. Augustine Academy Press and Shining Light Dolls

This year's gift incorporates music "keys" again... 


Additional Ideas:


Includes two new songs that had not been heard since the 1960's: 
"The Best Christmas Present of All" and "I Want To Be a Little Missionary."


.: 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!



I'm not generally a big fan of graphic novels, but I LOVE this new book from The Deo Gratias Co! I'm really looking forward to reading it with the kids and excited to be able to give another copy away to one of my visitors here at Shower of Roses! 


Additional Ideas:



.: 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!



O Rex Gentium (O King of the Gentiles) - Rex Gentium and Bambinelli Nail Polish
sponsored by Lisieux


Additional Ideas:


.: 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!


O Emmanuel (O With Us is God) - Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story Board Book
sponsored by Shower of Roses



Additional Ideas:


We already own the picture book featured in the giveaway. This year our children will be unwrapping the Midnight Mass puzzle and Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring CD which were both featured in my 2017 Christmas Gift Ideas & Stocking Stuffers post last month. 


.: CHRISTMAS EVE :.


This year I have an extra little gift to include for Christmas Eve from author Michele Chronister! 



sponsored by Michele Chronister

"Do you like the idea of the Jesse Tree, but don't have the time? Does your family attend Midnight Mass (or wish you could)? This prayer companion is for you! Featuring the complete text of "The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ from the Roman Martyrology", the chant used at the beginning of the Christmas Mass during the Night, this little book will help your child to join the Church in reflecting on the mystery of Christmas."

The winner of the giveaway will receive a copy of this lovely little book tucked in the package along with the rest of their O Antiphon ornaments and gifts! 


.: O ANTIPHONS GIVEAWAY :. 




O Antiphon Ornaments (Rustic) sponsored by Jesse Tree Treasures 


This giveaway is sponsored by Jesse Tree Treasures, St. Augustine Academy Press, The Deo Gratias Co, Shining Light Dolls, Lisieux Nail Polish, author Michele Chronister, and Shower of Roses.  (Combined value of $200+) 


Enter the Giveaway using the Rafflecopter Box below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway



If you are looking for gift ideas, you can find my lists of Christmas Gift Ideas & Stocking Stuffers here (2015)here (2016) and here (2017).