Fort Campbell Families prepared for the upcoming Christmas season during a community advent wreath-making event Nov. 22, in the fellowship hall of Liberty Chapel sharing the history of advent wreaths and why they are important in the upcoming holiday celebration.
“Everyone thinks of Jan. 1 as the New Year, well for the Christian calendar, the New Year is the first Sunday of Advent,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Scott Nichols, deputy chief of Religious Support and director of Garrison Community Ministries. “Advent is a Latin word that simply means ‘coming’ and it means the coming and preparing for the Christ child. Advent wreaths have a long tradition, hundreds and hundreds of years, and is an expression and symbolism of hope.”
Fort Campbell Families created advent wreaths and learned about their purpose together as a community. The advent wreaths were made by tying greenery to a brass ring with four candleholders.
The candles of an advent wreath are lit one by one on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. An Advent wreath typically has three purple candles and one pink candle. The purple candles represent the wait for Christ’s birth. The pink candle lit the last Sunday of advent symbolizes that the wait for Christ’s birth is almost over.
“Around the holiday time the emphasis on material goods and secular things are increased,” Nichols said. “For people of the Christian faith, the Christmas season starts on the first day of advent. Advent is an opportunity to get into the Christmas spirit.”
First Sergeant Randy Leyba, 326th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and his wife, Leslie, and daughters Quin, 9, and Sawyer, 5, joined other Families at the wreath-making event.
“This is a new type of advent for us to attend,” Randy said. “This is something we can build together and enjoy throughout the month. We learned a lot tonight about advent, everything we heard I knew nothing about.”
The Leybas discovered a new way to celebrate the holiday in a more meaningful way.
“It’s about togetherness, where we can all be together at the same time and not in front of a TV,” Leslie said. “We can actually interact and talk together as a Family while working on something. I feel like this is a new tradition for our Family that doesn’t involve candy or toys, this is something we would want to do with our kids where we can share the meaning behind the wreath and look forward to lighting it each week.”
Making advent wreaths is exactly the type of event where Families can learn together, said Jolynda Strandberg, installation director of Religious Education.
“It’s an opportunity for Families to learn together in cohesive, intergenerational community events,” Strandberg said. “Rather than us taking total responsibility for the child’s spirituality, it allows us to come alongside the parents and encourage and teach them how to develop their own children’s spirituality. Kids learn from watching their parents and how they express their own faith.”
These types of events are especially beneficial to Fort Campbell Families because it creates a sense of community especially during the holidays, Nichols said.
“It’s all about resiliency, this is an opportunity for Families to do something together,” he said. “This is an activity that brings Families together as a community.”