Holidays

“Christ-Centered” Holiday Celebration Ideas

These holiday ideas are here for YOU! My friend Katie at Boasting In My Weakness and I wrote this together a couple of years ago for a church women’s event. I’ve added a little more to the Advent section and may continue to add to it as we progress through the year.

New Year’s Day

Celebrates: A day of remembrance for the year just ended and of looking forward to (and making resolutions for) the year ahead.

Websites:
• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year’s_Day
• http://www.annieshomepage.com/newyearshistory.html

Themes & Scriptures:
1.) New Life In Christ, the old has passed the new has come
• Rom. 7:5-6; 2 Cor. 5:17; Rom. 6:1-11; Col. 3:1-4
2.) God sovereign over time and seasons
• Gen. 1:1; Rev. 1:4-8; Isa. 41:4; Isa. 44:6; Gen 1:14-15; Dan. 2:20-22

Family Activities:
• Make a list of New Year resolutions with a spiritual impact and/or a list of goals for the entire family, keeping the focus on growing closer with God.
• As a family, write a family newsletter detailing what God has done in your lives over the past year and what you hope lies ahead. Keep this for a scrapbook or mail out to family and friends.
• Hold a sunrise devotional, watching the sunrise on the first day of the year. Read Genesis 1 and thank God and praise him for being the author and creator of all things. (Depending on the weather, you may want to watch through a window.)
• Create a family time capsule and set a date to re-open it, the next year, or five years, etc. Use this as a reminder that our Almighty God has created time and space and is sovereign over all things.
• More activities: http://fun.familyeducation.com/new-years/family-time/35029.html

Family Crafts:
• Peace Dove Craft http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/newyear/dove/
• New Year acrostic poem http://www.enchantedlearning.com/poetry/acrostic/newyear/index.shtml
• Make a Peace Dove from http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/newyear/

Sanctity of Life Day

Celebrates: Celebrates the Sanctity of Life in mid-January

Websites:
• http://www.ppl.org/SOHLS_Home.html
• http://www.abortionessay.com/files/packet.html

Themes & Scriptures:
1.) God Ordains Life
• Psalm 103:3, Jeremiah 1:4-6, Isaiah 44:1-3, Psalm 71:17, Genesis 1-2, Psalm 139

Family Activities:
• Take the opportunity to learn more about one of the many issues facing our culture today regarding unwanted pregnancies: teen pregnancies,, abortion, partial birth abortion, adoption (as an alternative,) and also child abuse. Study the issue, find the facts, look at the statistics, and then read God’s word. As a family, discuss what you’ve learned and discuss ways to get involved and how we can influence the decisions our government makes about these issues.

Groundhog Day

Celebrates: Tradition of looking to the stars and the animals to determine the onset or delay of spring. On February 2nd, a groundhog is observed emerging from a ceremonial tree stump to predict whether or not there will be six more weeks of winter.
Websites:
• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog_day
• http://www.stormfax.com/ghogday.htm#Origins

Themes & Scriptures:
1.) Only God Knows The Future
• Genesis 18:2-33, Leviticus 19:26, 31, Psalm 139:1-17, Jeremiah 29:11-13
2.) God is sovereign over the seasons and the weather.
• Psalm 147, Genesis 1:34-15, Psalm 135:6-7, Jeremiah 51:15-16, Mark 4:35-41
3.) God created everything – the earth, sun, moon, stars, animals, people.
• Genesis 1, Psalm 104, Deut. 18:14, Jeremiah 23:33-40, Jeremiah 27:9, Ezekiel 13:22-23, Zechariah 10:2, Matt 16:1-4, Acts 16:16-18

Family Activities:
• Watch the news coverage and use it as a springboard for family discussion: man’s eternal quest for knowledge and answers, God’s call to rely on Him in faith, looking to stars and animals instead of God, the similarities between the tradition and idol worship.
• Pick a simple craft, read a bible story together, or do a family devotional together and spend the day dwelling on the awesomeness of God.

Family Crafts
• Silhouette Praying Hands – http://www.dltk-bible.com/crafts/mhands.htm
• Thumbprint Painting – http://www.dltk-bible.com/mthumbody.htm
• Head Silhouette – http://crafts.kaboose.com/silhouette.html
• http://www.first-school.ws/theme/bible.htm

Valentine’s Day

Celebrates: Celebrated on February 14th, Valentine’s Day (named after two Christian martyrs names Valentine) is a traditional holiday for lovers to celebrate their love.

Websites:
• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine%27s_day
• http://www.history.com/minisites/valentine/

Themes & Scriptures:
1.) God’s Love for Us
• Psalm 36, Psalm 86, Psalm 136, John 3:16, Romans 5:7-9, 1 John 4
2.) Love One Another
• John 13:34-35, John 15:1-17, John 15:1-17, John 15:1-17, Romans 12:9-21, Romans 13:8-9
3. ) “True Love” – As God Defines It
• 1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 3-4

Family Activities:
• Together, create a small booklet about ways to show God’s love to others. Host a tea party for friends with a topic of loving others and distribute the booklet. (Mostly for little girls, though women could certainly host a Valentine’s Day Tea for their friends as well.)
• Make “Valentine” cards for friends, family, neighbors or elderly in the church or nursing home. Include scripture on the inside and hand-deliver them with a hug.
• Thinking of those within your circle of ministry, find a way to demonstrate God’s love to several people on Valentine’s Day (For example, mowing the lawn for an elderly neighbor, taking a hot meal to someone who is ill, etc.)
• Brainstorm larger ways to share God’s love on a regular basis: get involved with a jail ministry, a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen, a home for battered women, etc. Find something available in your area and commit to be involved for an agreed upon minimum length of time.
• Read a book about the story behind Valentine’s Day.

Family Crafts:
• Scripture based Valentine Cards
• Make Cookies: Cross and heart-shaped ones.
• “Hearts of Love” Banner from “Celebrate The Holidays With Scripture” by Dorla Schlitt

President’s Day

Celebrates: Celebrates the birthday of first U.S. president George Washington, and often Abraham Lincoln and other U.S. President’s as well.

Websites:
• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidents’_Day_(United_States)
• http://www.whitehouse.gov/kids/presidentsday/

Themes & Scriptures:
1.) The Act of Christian Submission
• Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-14; Titus 3:1
2.) Servant Leadership
• John 13:12-17; Luke 22:24-27; Mark 9:33-35; Phil 2:5-8
3.) Praying for Our Leaders
• 1 Timothy 2:1-4; Jeremiah 29:7, Ecclesiastes 10:20a

Family Activities:
• Play “follow the leader” to demonstrate leadership and submission.
• OR, play a larger version of the game where someone gets to be “boss” for an hour – they have to practice good leadership and the others have to practice good submission. They will make decisions on how the housework gets done or the meal gets prepared for that hour and everyone will see how the results turn out if you do or don’t work together properly.
• Pray for your President, your government, and your nation as a whole.
• Tour of your local courthouse or state capitol building

Family Crafts:
• Make a log cabin – An older child can gather sticks or use craft sticks and hot glue them or use modeling clay as cement and construct a little log cabin. A younger child can use glue or modeling clay to stick them onto a shoebox. Think about how much work it would have taken to make your own (real) log cabin and how important it would have been to work together and submit to the leaders instructions. Think about the problems that could arise if everyone tried to take over and do it their own way.
• http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/presidentsday/
• http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/presidents.html
• http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/presidents-day/index.html – a great site for older children.

Ash Wednesday

• History/Description: Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and is 46 days before Easter. It is a time for repentance. Ashes were used in Biblical times to express sorrow for sin. In the Catholic Religion, this time is usually celebrated by marking their heads with a cross of ashes, and by fasting from meat, and repenting. This time is mostly recognized by the Catholic Church. Some Christians do not celebrate Ash Wednesday because they believe it does not line up with Scripture, citing Matthew 6:16-18. In these verses Jesus tells them not to disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting, but instead wash themselves so that their fasting isn’t seen by others, but by God.

• Websites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash_Wednesday , http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/2007/2033_Lenten_Lights/

• Related Scriptures:
1. Examples of repenting/fasting with ashes: Job 42:3-6; Jonah 3:6; Matthew 11:2
2. The shedding of Christ’s blood overcomes the need for sacrifices and ashes: Hebrews 9:13-14
3. Jesus warns of Hypocrisy of disfiguring yourself while fasting: Matthew 6:16-18

• Celebration Ideas:
1. This is one of the possible times to begin a Lenten Lights celebration, especially for families with older children, or for adults. The Desiring God website link above is where you can find all the details for this celebration. It is a series of Scripture readings that can be done either weekly (beginning on Ash Wednesday), or daily beginning the Saturday of the Palm Sunday weekend. For adults or families with older children the weekly readings might be more appropriate since their attention and memory spans are longer. For families with young children, the weekly readings might work better. The Lenten Lights resource is available as a booklet you may purchase through desiringgod.org, or you may simply look up and print each reading directly off the desiringgod.org website listed above for free.
2. Take this time to prepare you and your family’s hearts for celebrating the Resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. Do a study with your children on the meaning and importance of repentance by studying various verses on repentance. Activity suggestion: “Sins Revealed” – Have a demonstration pouring 4 oz of Coke into a glass, then drop some buttons into the coke. They will first sink to the bottom and not be visible, but will soon rise to the top for all to see. This can be compared to our sin, and how we can not hide it, but must repent of it to be forgiven. See this website for full details/Scripture references on this activity: http://www.kidssundayschool.com/Gradeschool/Objects/1object06.php
• Other Resources: Lenten Lights Booklet (desiringgod.org)

St. Patrick’s Day

• History/Description: St. Patrick’s birth name was Maewyn, and until he was 16, he considered himself a pagan. At that age, he was sold into slavery by a group of Irish marauders that raided his village. While in slavery he began to learn about God. After 6 years of slavery, he went to Gaul where he studied in a monastery for twelve years. During this time he realized his calling was to convert Irish pagans to Christianity. Two years later, Patrick was appointed as second bishop to Ireland. One common symbol of St. Patrick’s Day is the shamrock. It is said that Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock in his sermons to explain the Trinity. He showed the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit could all exist separately, yet be one. His followers adopted the custom of wearing a shamrock on his feast day. The St. Patrick’s Day custom came to America in 1737. That was the first year St. Patrick’s Day was publicly celebrated in this country, in Boston. Today, people celebrate the day with parades, wearing of the green, and shamrocks. It also takes place just a few days before the first day of spring. All of that green might be a reminder of the green to come in springtime!
• Websites: http://wilstar.com/holidays/patrick.htm , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Patrick’s_Day, http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/newsletter/holidays/stpatricks.html

• Related Scriptures: Trinity(Gen 1:26; John 1:1, Matt. 3:16-17; Matt. 28:19; Romans 1:19-2 0; Ephesians 4:5-6)

• Celebration Ideas:

1. With your children, draw and cut out 3-leaf clovers (shamrocks). Tell your children the story of St. Patrick (from the internet, book, or other resource). Then use the clover, as St. Patrick did, to explain the Trinity to your children. Then cut and paste a verse about the Trinity to the front of the Shamrock, and put up as a little St. Patrick’s Day decoration, and reminder of the Trinity. You could also punch a hole at the top of the clover, and put some yarn through it to make a necklace/badge. The kids can wear them around for the day, and explain the Trinity to anyone who might ask them what they are wearing! It could be a tool to be used, just as St. Patrick used the shamrock!

Earth Day

• History/Description: Earth Day is a term used to represent two different observances, both in the springtime. They are both intended to inspire appreciation and awareness of the Earth’s environment. The equinoctial Earth Day is celebrated around March 21st. The other Earth Day is known as the April 22nd Earth Day, and is often extended to an “Earth Week,” beginning April 16th and going through April 22nd.

• Websites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Day

• Related Scriptures: The earth is the Lord’s – Psalm 24:1; God is the creator of the earth – Gen. Chapter 1

• Celebration Ideas:

1. Take this opportunity to talk with your children about God’s creation. God is the creator of this earth we live in, and He has put us in charge of caring for it. Read the above verses together. Spend some time outside today enjoying God’s creation. Work together on planting a garden, or planting some flowers. You might even buy a new tree and plant it in your yard together. Let the kids get dirty and help you! Meanwhile, as you plant together, talk about how amazing God’s creation is, and how we must be good stewards of His creation, and care for it in a way that is honoring to Him! Make this a yearly tradition…go out and plant something as a family on Earth day and celebrate God’s amazing creation!

April Fools Day

• History/Description: Also known as “All Fools Day.” The day is marked by practical jokes of varying sophistication on family,friends, and neighbors, or sending them on fools’ errands, the aim of which is to embarrass the gullible. The origins of this day are greatly debated. Different countries seem to have different reasons for the origin of this day in their particular country.

• Websites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Fools_Day

• Related Scriptures: Fools (Psalm 14:1; Psalm 39:8; Psalm 49:10; Psalm 53:1; Psalm 92:5-6; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs is full of verses about the fool. 1Cor 1:27; Eph. 5:17; Matt. 7:24-27

• Celebration Ideas:

1. There are numerous verses in the Bible about fools. Listed above are only a tiny fraction of all that can be found! Do a study today with your family on the foolish man and the wise man. Teach your children the importance of being like the wise man. Make a chart: one side write foolish, on the other side write wise. Go through scriptures with your child about wise/foolish and list characteristics the Bible talks about for each. Then talk about which one it is better to be like.

Passover

• History/Description: It is celebrated on the 14th day of the month Nissan (the first month of the Jewish year). This is sometime during spring on the Northern calendar(in 2007 it was on April 2nd). Passover remembers and celebrates the Exodus and freedom of the Israelites from slavery under the Pharoah in Egypt. As described in the Book of Exodus, the Lord gave detailed instructions for the Israelites (putting the blood of a lamb over their doorposts, and eating a specific meal), so that when the Spirit of God came through to kill the firstborn children the Israelites homes and children would be “passed over.”

• Websites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover
• Related Scriptures: Account of the Passover – Exodus 12:1-30; God’s instructions for feast – Leviticus 23:4-8; Christ celebrates the Passover – Matt. 26:17-19; Christ our Passover – 1Cor 5:7
• Celebration Ideas::
1. Create an authentic Passover Seder (Supper). Passover lasts 7-8 days and begins with a meal and worship service Jewish families call “Seder” because it is done in a certain order. The meal is made of certain foods. The father or grandfather is to sit at the head of the table, and the youngest son has to ask the father 4 times throughout the meal, “Why is this night different than all other nights?” After the first time the father serves the unleavened bread and explains the significance; the 2nd time he served the bitter herbs and explains them; the 3rd time he has them dip their vegetables in salt water and explains that the new life we have was made possible by Christ’s sacrifice. Then they are dipped in Haroseth to remind us that the sacrifice was sweetened by freedom. The 4th time he explains that the eat reclining, to celebrate our deliverance and freedom, desiring the same for all people. For Christians this celebration can end with the explanation that we are all God’s chosen people if we have been born into His family by believing in Christ. As God’s chosen people we should share a cup of joy with others because Jesus was our final lamb. Here is what you would serve to have a Passover Seder:
• Matzoth – wafers of unleavened bread. This reminds us that the Israelites had to be ready to go when God said “go,” and didn’t have time to wait for yeast to rise. As Christians this can remind us to always be ready to go when Jesus returns.
• Maror – bitter herbs, like freshly grated horseradish or onion. These are a reminder of the bitter suffering they endured in Egyptian slavery. This can also remind us that many have suffered to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
• Haroseth – a mixture of chopped apples, nuts, cinnamon, and wine. This represents the morter the Israelites had to use to make bricks for the Egyptians.
• The Shank Bone of a Lamb – This is a symbol of the lamb that was sacrificed for sins. For us as Christians this will represent Jesus, the perfect Lamb that was slain for our sins.
• A Roasted Egg – an egg hard-boiled in the shell. This represents giving more to God that what is required. God’s law demanded justice, but by giving Jesus, God also gave us mercy, love, and forgiveness, along with justice.
• Parsley or Watercress – These 2 plants stay green all year. For Christians this represents God’s gift of everlasting life because of the Resurrection of Jesus.
• Wine or Grape Juice – As the service goes on and each plague is mentioned , each person sips a little of the wine. This represents Jesus blood that was shed so we could know the total joy of freedom and forgiveness.
• Elijah’s Cup – This cup stays in the center of the table and for Jewish people it remains full, waiting for Elijah to return and announce the coming Messiah. But as Christians we know that John the Baptist was this Elijah, and all of that has been fulfilled, so we all can share this cup in the joy that our hope has come true…the Messiah has come and is alive.

Palm Sunday

• History/Description: Palm Sunday falls on the Sunday before Easter. It commemorates the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in the days before His Crucifixtion. (Mark 11:1-11, Matthew 21:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:12-19). Jesus rode into Jerusalem, on a colt, and the people in the streets put their cloaks down in front of Him, and also put palm branches on the road before Him. The palm branch was a symbol of triumph and of victory, in Jewish tradition, and is treated in other parts of the bible as such (Leviticus 23:40 and Revelation 7:9).

• Websites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_Sunday, http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/2007/2033_Lenten_Lights/

• Related Scriptures: The Triumphal Entry: John 12:13; Matt. 21:8-9; Mark 11:8-10; Luke 19:35-38
• Celebration Ideas:
1. This is the alternate time to begin a Lenten Lights celebration, especially for families with younger children. The Desiring God website link above is where you can find all the details for this celebration. It is a series of Scripture readings that can be done either weekly (beginning on Ash Wednesday), or daily beginning the Saturday of the Palm Sunday weekend. For families with young children, the weekly readings would probably work better. The day before Palm Sunday would be the day to begin the daily readings, and you would read them each day through Easter. The Lenten Lights resource is available as a booklet you may purchase through desiringgod.org, or you may simply look up and print each reading directly off the desiringgod.org website listed above for free.
2. Throw a big party with your kids. Decorate with balloons, streamers, and noisemakers. Make a Palm Leaf cake. Read the account of the Triumphal entry of Jesus. Emphasize to your children how excited the people of Jerusalem were that Jesus was coming. Then on Good Friday, remind them of this huge party you had just 5 days ago, and how excited the people were to see Jesus. Now, only 5 days later, they were crucifying Him. You can then read the account of Jesus being crucified (on Good Friday).

Easter

• History/Description: Celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is celebrated sometime between March 22nd and April 25th each year. Easter also marks the end of the 40 days of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday.

• Websites: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/2007/2033_Lenten_Lights/ , http://www.familylife.com/1-800-358-6329/detail.asp?id=9066 , http://www.cherbearsden.com/cookies.html

• Related Scriptures: The Resurrection of Christ: Matt. 28, Mark 16, Luke 24

• Celebration Ideas: If possible, do other children’s Easter activities (like Easter egg hunts/Easter egg decorating, etc) on Saturday, and reserve Easter Sunday to truly reflect on and worship our risen Savior at church and as a family, through some of these activities.

1. This will be the concluding reading of the Lenten Lights celebration as described in the Ash Wednesday sheet, and the Palm Sunday sheet.

2. Resurrection Eggs – you can purchase a set of these for $14.99 (reg. price) from most Christian book stores, or online from FamilyLife.com. These eggs can be hidden throughout the house, or outside, and you can have the children hunt for them. Then have them bring all the eggs back to you as you all read through the included booklet, and open the eggs in the order they tell you, to reveal the Easter story. It is a fun, Christ-centered Easter tradition that can be repeated year after year!

3. Easter Cookies/Resurrection Buns

• Easter Cookies Recipe

You Need:
1- cup whole pecans
1-teaspoon vinegar
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
1-cup sugar
zipper baggie
wooden spoon
tape
Bible
Preheat the oven to 300 (this is important-don’t wait ’til you’re half-done with the recipe)
1. Place the pecans in the baggie and let the kids beat them with the wooden spoon to break them into pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers.
Read John 19:1-3
2. Put the vinegar into a mixing bowl. Let each child smell the vinegar. Explain that when Jesus was on the cross and he became thirsty, He was offered vinegar to drink.
Read John 19:28-30
3. Add the egg whites to the vinegar. The eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life so that we could have life.
Read John 10:10-11
4. Sprinkle a little salt into each child’s hand and let them taste it. Put the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers, and the bitterness of our own sin.
Read Luke 23:27
5. So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1 cup of sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story ids that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him.
Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16
6. Beat the egg whites with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Explain that the color white represents the purity in god’s eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.
Read Isa. 1:18 and John 3:1-3
7. Fold in the broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto a wax paper cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus body was laid to rest.
Read Matt. 27:57-60
8. Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven off.
9. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the door. Explain that Jesus tomb was sealed.
Read Matt. 27:65-66
10. Go to bed. Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight and that Jesus followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed.
Read John 16:20-22
11. On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. the cookies are hollow! ON THE FIRST EASTER Jesus followers were amazed to find His tomb empty.
Read Matt. 28: 1-9

• Resurrection Buns Recipe

1 package Rhodes frozen bread dough rolls
24 large marshmallows
melted butter or margarine
sugar mixed with cinnamon

Thaw 24 rolls. Flatten a roll to about 3” in diameter. Place a large marshmallow in the center of dough and pinch the dough together around the marshmallows. Roll in the palm of your hands and smooth into a softball sized doughball. Roll in butter, roll in cinnamon/sugar mix, place on a greased cookie sheet. Let them rise until they double in size (30-60 minutes). Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack. Read the account of the Resurrection of Christ to your family (Luke 24:1-12). Just like the tomb on Easter Sunday these buns are empty!

Cinco De Mayo

• History/Description: Meaning “5th of May” in English. It is primarily a federal holiday in Mexico, however the date is also observed in the United States and other locations around the world. It commemorates an initial victory of Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. One common misconception is that this is Mexico’s Independence Day, however Mexico’s Independence was not obtained for 5 more years following this battle. The date is used more to celebrate the culture and experiences of Americans of Mexican ancestry.

• Websites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinco_De_Mayo

• Related Scriptures: the Nations: Rev. 15:4; Rom. 16:25-27; Mark 13:10; Matt. 28:19

• Celebration Ideas:
1. Throw a Cinco De Mayo fiesta. Decorate with red, green, and white decorations, and other Mexican décor. Serve a variety of Mexican dishes, desserts, and drinks. Invite other children or family/friends over to enjoy the fun, and possible bring a dish. Invite a Missionary, or possibly someone who has been on a mission trip to Mexico to share about the culture, and about some of the work that has been done there to the Glory of God. Or if that isn’t feasible, do your own research on mission work being done to reach the lost in Mexico, and share it at the party in a fun, creative way.

Mother’s Day

• History/Description: A day honoring mothers, celebrated on the 2nd Sunday of May. In the US Mother’s Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe as a day dedicated to peace. In 1907 Anna Jarvis began to campaign for a national Mother’s Day, writing businessmen, ministers, and politicians. By 1911 almost every state was celebrating the holiday. On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a joint resolution establishing Mother’s Day as an official holiday.

• Websites: http://www.familylife.com/resources/mothersday/history.asp, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother%27s_Day, http://www.familylife.com/resources/mothersday/tips.asp, http://www.familylife.com/1-800-358-6329/detail.asp?id=8299 (Dennis Rainey book)

• Related Scriptures:
• Celebration Ideas: These are ideas that can be used to honor your Mother, or other mothers’ you know, or this sheet might be helpful for husbands to use with children, to plan a special celebration/gift for Mother’s Day.

1. Make a one-of-a-kind booklet for Mom, filled with family photos and hand-written notes. Or instead, shoot a video capturing how much you appreciate Mom. You might want to film the children in various areas of the house, thanking Mom for the impact she has on their lives in particular rooms. You could also record some original songs or even a family skit.
2. Give Mom the gift of time—a day to go shopping, have lunch, or enjoy dessert and coffee later in the day. Reminisce about how she has contributed to your life. Younger kids in the home could give Mom a day at the spa while they clean the house.
3. Write a poem or heartfelt letter expressing your love and appreciation to Mom. You may want to thank her for her Christian example. A nice touch would be framing the poem/letter with a picture of her holding you as newborn. Dennis Rainey’s book The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents gives step-by-step ideas for writing tributes

Memorial Day

Celebrates: Observed on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service to their country. For many, Memorial Day marks the beginning of the summer season.

Websites:
• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Day
• http://www.usmemorialday.org/

Themes & Scriptures:
1.) Jesus’ Sacrifice/Our Spiritual Freedom
• Hebrews 7:26-28; Hebrews 10:1-11
2.) Spiritual Warfare
• 2 Corinthians 10:1-6; 1 Corinthians 9:25-27; Galatians 5:16-17

Family Activities:
• Attend a Memorial Day Parade. As a family, make pins, bookmarks, magnets or some other free gift ahead of time to pass out at the parade or make special cards for veterans and seek them out at the parade.
• Visit a Memorial together and discuss what it means to sacrifice ones’ life for another. Compare that to the sacrifice Jesus made for our freedom from sin.
• Write a letter and construct a care package for a soldier and put it in the mail. Pray specifically for that soldier, his family, and his unit as you do.
• Fly kites. Discuss how the kites are caught between the force of the wind and the force of gravity, neither of which you can see. Compare to the spiritual warfare in our lives. Pray, thank God for sending Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice and ask God to help you fight the good fight every day.

Family Crafts:
• Fingerprint Poppy Wreath: This wreath of poppies is made using only paper, your thumb and a few colors of paint. Poppies are often used symbolically on Memorial Day.

http://www.dltk-holidays.com/remembrance/mfingerprint.htm

• Lest We Forget Angel Paper Craft: This craft uses a printable template to cut and glue and color. The end result is an angel holding a poppy with the words: “Lest we Forget” Remind your children, not only to remember fallen soldiers on this day, but also to never forget the sacrifice that Jesus has paid on our behalf.

http://www.dltk-bible.com/remembranceangel.htm

• Memorial Day Coloring Pages: Several coloring pages to print. http://www.coloring.ws/remembrance1.htm
• Make and print custom writing paper for a letter to a soldier: http://www.dltk-cards.com/writingpaper/
• More crafts: http://www.freekidcrafts.com/kid_memorial_day_craft_ideas.html http://www.first-school.ws/theme/h_united_states.htm http://www.eduplace.com/monthlytheme/may/memorial_activities.html

Father’s Day

Celebrates: Celebrated on the third Sunday of June, Father’s Day celebrates fatherhood as well as honors fathers and forefathers.

Websites:
• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father’s_day

Themes & Scriptures:
1.) God as our Spiritual Father Figure: Wise, Loving, Disciplining, Trustworthy
• Daniel 2:30-23; Hebrews 12:5-11; John 14:1-4
2.) Honoring our Fathers
• Exodus 20:12, Proverbs 4, Proverbs 10:1, Proverbs 23:22-25

Family Activities:
• Do something special for Dad – something thoughtful and personal to his likes. Clean out the garage, wash the car, iron a week’s worth of work outfits, arrange a day at the golf course or other favorite past time and present him with a homemade coupon for “One Free Day of _______.”
• Hold a family bible study where the kids prepare and deliver a brief study about honoring our fathers or about a father’s wisdom – not as a lesson to the parents but more as a tribute to them.
• Make a special dinner for Dad with all his favorite foods and allow each member the opportunity to pitch in.
• Plan the day full of Dad’s favorite things to do, even if that includes an extra long nap! At the beginning of the day give Dad a card expressing thanks and love and rewarding him with a day of fun or rest for all his hard work, commitment, and love for his family.

Family Crafts:
• Have the children make something sentimental for dad like plaster hands or a special t-shirt.; Make a special homemade Father’s Day card.
• More crafts:

http://www.dltk-holidays.com/dad/

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/fathersday/

Flag Day

Celebrates: On June 14th, Flag Day celebrates the adoption of the U.S. flag.

Websites:
• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_Day_in_the_United_States
• http://www.usflag.org/

Themes & Scriptures:
1.) Our citizenship in Heaven.
• Philippians 3:20, Ephesians 2:19, Hebrews 11:13-16

Family Crafts:
• Ask your children what they think Heaven’s flag would be like if it had one. Ask them what symbols they would use to represent our citizenship in Heaven and then let them design and create their own.

Independence Day

Celebrates: Celebrated each fourth of July, Independence Day commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence and freedom from Great Britain.

Websites;
• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Day_(United_States)
• http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Independence_Day.shtml

Themes & Scriptures:
1.) Freedom In Christ
• Romans 8:20+, 2 Cor. 3:17, *Galatians 5, 1 Peter 2:16

Family Activities:
• Picnic with individually wrapped items, each wrapped with a scripture verse. As each family member unwraps a new item, they read their scripture verse out loud. Meditate on the scriptures, discuss them, pick one and memorize it together, etc.
• Attend a parade or fireworks show together.
• Some cities hold festivals or activities to attend. If not, create your own with your family and friends. Include games (water balloon toss, three legged race, etc.), food and prizes (scripturally adorned of course.)

Family Crafts:
• Make your own American flags to wave at a parade or fireworks display. On the dowel or popsicle stick ‘pole’, write your choice of freedom scripture. When you wave them during the parade it will serve both as a reminder and as a method to celebrate our national and our spiritual freedom.
• More crafts:

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/july4/

http://www.first-school.ws/theme/h_united_states.htm

August

August is the only month with no national holidays. Nonetheless, we should celebrate God continually!
Themes & Scriptures:
1.) Sanctification & Bearing Fruit
• Matthew 7:15-23; John 15:1-17; 1 Peter 1; Hebrews 9:13-15

Family Activities:
• Go on a nature walk. Compare and contrast the season of summer with sanctification – between the birth of new life and the harvest, the time and effort put into weeding and growing fruit, etc.

Family Crafts:
• http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/summer/
• http://www.dltk-holidays.com/summer/index.html
• http://familycrafts.about.com/od/summercrafts

Labor Day

• History/Description: Celebrated on the first Monday of September. Began in 1882 to create a day off for the working man. It is still celebrated today mainly as a day of rest, and often is thought of as the end of summer.

• Websites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_Day,

• Related Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 15:58;Colossians 3:23; Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 84:5; Isaiah 40:31; Philippians 4:13

• Books: Kids on Strike!, By: Susan Campbell Bartoletti

• Celebration Ideas:

1. Take time to thank those who work so hard every day to provide for you (parent, spouse, etc) Spend time thanking the Lord for providing you (or spouse or parent) with a job, the provision of work and money. Share verses about work: Gen. 1: ;Deut. 32:4; Psalm 19:1; Neh. 4:6; Hag. 2:4; John 9:4; 1Cor. 3:9; 2Tim. 2:15, along with the verses listed above.

2. Have a family research project on your family’s work history. Make it a game among children to see who can gather the most information, or have them work together to compile information as a team.
• Interview older family members to find out what jobs/skills different family members in your family tree had.
• Make a “famous” “infamous” list for the different jobs people had in your family.
• Take note of when times in history changed what careers your family members had.
• Make a list of what the kids think they might do as a career when they get older.
• List career fields that exist today, but didn’t exist 2 generations ago.
• Thank God for the provision of work for your family, and pray for direction on where He would have the children work when they get older. Talk with them about how God has already planned what they will do when they get older and encourage them to seek His direction in that.

Grandparents’ Day

• History/Description: A day set aside to honor grandparents, celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day. Marian McQuade was the founder of this national holiday. In 1973 the first Grandparents Day was celebrated in West Virginia, and by 1978 congress had passed legislation making it an official National holiday, followed by the signing of President Jimmy Carter.

• Websites: http://www.grandparents-day.com/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Grandparents’_Day , http://www.familylife.com/1-800-358-6329/detail.asp?id=8299

• Books: The Best Gift You Can Give Your Parents by Dennis Rainey, Grandma Tells a Story, Lois Grambling;

• Related Scriptures: 1 Tim. 5:4; Job 12:12; Prov. 17:6; 1 Pet. 5:5;

• Celebration Ideas:
1. Make a Tree of Love:
• You will need: a flower pot; dirt, clay, or plaster of paris; small branch, small slips of paper, pens, yarn or ribbon
• Invite grandparents to dinner
• Make a centerpiece that looks like a tree with the flower pot, dirt, clay, and small branch.
• To a branch at the top of the tree attach a special verse to bless the grandparents.
• Give each family member 5 slips of paper and have them write “I love grandpa/grandma because…”, or for smaller children, you can write for them, and just ask them the questions.
• Sign each slip with the authors name, roll it up, and tie it to a branch.
• Before dessert, have the grandparents remove and read the slips aloud.

2. Write a Tribute to your grandparents and/or have your children write special notes expressing their love and appreciation of their grandparents. Take the opportunity to express, with out reservation, your love, appreciation, thankfulness, high regard, how they have been an example of Christ’s love to you, etc, for your grandparents. It will mean more to them than any gift you could give them. And it is something that will remain in their hearts forever. For more information and help on how to write a tribute, Dennis Rainey’s book, The Best Gift You Can Give Your Parents, would be very helpful.

Rosh Hashanah

• History Description: The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) was celebrated at the beginning of the month Tishri, the first month of the civil year. This day marks the beginning of the Jewish year and opens the Ten Days of Penitence, which close with Yom Kippur. The Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) are the holiest days of the Jewish year. These ten days are called the Days of Awe or High Holy Days. Unlike other holy days, they do not celebrate a season or historical event. This season is a time for looking inward to spiritual growth.

• Websites: http://www.biblicalholidays.com/roshhashana/rosh-Hashana-overview.htm

• Books: A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays, Heart of Wisdom Publishing

• Related Scriptures: Genesis 21:1-4, 5-12, 13-21, 22-27, 28-34; Numbers 29:1-6; 1 Samuel 1:1 – 2:10

• Celebration Ideas:

1. The annual Torah cycle has the following readings for the first day of the Feast of Trumpets: Genesis 21:1-4, 5-12, 13-21, 22-27, 28-34; Numbers 29:1-6; 1 Samuel 1:1 – 2:10. The theme of the readings is “remembered” because Sarah and Hannah were remembered by God.
2. Seek out anyone you have hurt or wronged and “clear the air” by asking for forgiveness for any harsh words said, or deeds done, during the past year. If anyone has treated someone unfairly, this is a time to correct it and make amends.
3. Get a shofar or buy the children toy trumpets or make a paper maché shofar. The sound of the shofar is a call to alert and awaken us, and remind us of our need to repent.

Yom Kippur(Day of Attonement)

• History/Description: In the Bible, Yom Kippur bears three names: the Day of Atonement, the Day of Judgment, and the Sabbath of Sabbaths. Yom Kippur occurs on the tenth day of Tishri. The Day of Atonement is also referred to as “the Day of Redemption.” This day pictures the transference of sin. It is a time of fasting, cleansing, and reflection, which is to be observed once a year. Christians know that Jesus has provided our atonement: “…for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 2:23-24). God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. Jesus’ death surpasses and replaces the atonement ritual of the Jewish Temple.

• Websites: http://www.biblicalholidays.com/yom_kippur.htm

• Books: A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays, Heart of Wisdom Publishing

• Related Scriptures: Romans 3:25; Heb. 2:17-18; 1 John 2:2; 1John 4:10; Eph. 5:2;

• Celebration Ideas:

1. Before sundown, the day before the Day of Atonement, have a special light meal to prepare for the fast. After dinner, light the candles and say a blessing to begin the festival. Many families bless their children (parents, spouse) after the meal. Say a prayer over each of your children praying specifically for their needs, gifts, and talents. Then begin the fast. Traditionally the fast lasts for twenty-five hours. Children, pregnant women, and the elderly may want to try a “Daniel Fast” and only eat vegetables (Dan. 1:12-15) and water for the twenty-five hours. Spend time in prayer asking for forgiveness and praising God. Study the tabernacle and the temple together. Find Psalms that you may have sung or sing other songs about forgiveness. Spend a large amount of time in personal prayer. Burn a large, white twenty-four-hour candle all day.

2. Another interesting idea to incorporate is a time of prayer for the nation of Israel (Rom. 10:1). This is once in the year when Jews the world over are packed into synagogues. Pray for light to come and the reality of Jesus the Messiah to enter their hearts.

See You at the Pole

• History/Description: It is an annual gathering of Christian students of all ages at a flagpole in front of their local school for prayer, scripture-reading and worshipping God, during an early morning hour preceding the start of the school day. It takes place on every fourth Wednesday of September. This annual event began in 1990 in Burleson, TX, and has spread throughout the world.

• Websites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/See_You_at_the_Pole

• Related Scriptures: Prov. 15:29; Rom. 12:12; Phil. 4:6; 1Thess. 5:17; 1Tim. 2:1-3; James 5:16; 1Pet. 3:12;

• Celebration Ideas:

1. Have a special family prayer time to pray for all the leaders in your lives (president, senators, governors, pastors, teachers, parents). Then, make a card with a prayer in it for one of these leaders, and send it to them.

2. With your children, study a dollar bill and note the “in God we trust.” Read the Declaration of Independence and point out how the founders of the country recognized the need to follow and depend on God. Explain to them about how our leaders regularly make choices that either will or won’t follow God’s laws. Talk about how we can write letters and get involved to inform our leaders about the choices we want them to make – choices that would reflect and honor God. You could then making a flag out of construction paper, and put a verse on it. Then pray for the nation, and wisdom for the leaders in making decisions for our country.

3. As your child makes plans to attend their school’s See You at the Pole, encourage them to invite as many friends as they can. Also encourage them to use this opportunity to share Christ with their friends.

Reformation Day

• History/Description: A day of celebration in remembrance of the Reformation. It marks the day in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg Germany to debate the doctrine and practices of indulgences.

• Websites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reformation_Day, http://www.lovetolearnplace.com/SpecialDays/Reformation/#anchor27312, http://www.lovetolearnplace.com/SpecialDays/Reformation/activities.html#anchor58776, http://www.doorposts.net/Reformation.asp

• Books: Heroes of the Reformation, By: Richard Newton; Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World, By: Paul L. Maier; The Adventures of Martin Luther, Concordia Publishing House; Mommy, Why Don’t We Celebrate Halloween?, Linda Hacon Winwood; Redeeming Halloween by Kim Wier and Pam McCune

• Related Scriptures: Matt. 5:14-16; Heb. 4:14-16

• Celebration Ideas:

1. A Night of Reformation is a book from Doorposts.net. This 3-ring notebook includes complete plans for two different parties celebrating the life of reformer Martin Luther, one focusing on John Calvin, and one on Martin Bucer. Along with a script for a short play about Martin Luther, includes detailed instructions, illustrations, and materials lists for fun and creative group games, carnival booths, and craft projects that help to illustrate different aspects of each reformer’s life. It also offers suggestions for: refreshments and meal plans; Costumes; Talent shows; Period background music; Reformation hymns and psalms; Decorations; Contests; Student displays of Reformation art and writing projects; Books and magazines that families can read in preparation

2. Great Reformation Day Fair – you really need to go to the lovetolearnplace.com website (listed above) to get all of the details for this celebration! There are so many ideas of how to create this fair on that site. The basic idea is to have this Fair in your back yard, to turn this day into an evangelistic opportunity. When trick-or-treaters come to your door you can invite them to come to the fair, rather than turning them away, or simply giving them candy. Instead, they can join in some of the fun Reformation Day Fair activities!

All Saints Day

• History/Description: A celebration of all past Christian saints and martyrs.

• Websites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Saints’_Day

• Related Scriptures: 1Cor. 11:2; 2Cor. 7:14-16; Phil. 1:3; Heb. 13:3

• Books: 131 Christians Everyone Should Know by Mark Galli; Heroes of the Faith: Some Gave All, By: Ellen Caughey;

• Celebration Ideas:

1. Who are your favorite heroes in Christian History? Can you think of any whose example has inspired you? Why not use All Saint’s Day to think of and give thanks for as many Christians from the past as you can remember, whether they are famous or not, especially if their lives and teaching contributed something to yours. Or focus on one person, by reading a story about a Christian of the past who played a significant role in our history. Or even tell a story of a Christian family member and the impact they have had.

Veteran’s Day

• History/Description: It is an American holiday honoring military veterans. It is both a federal holiday and a state holiday in all states, and is celebrated on the same day as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, falling on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. Then in 1954, after World War II and the Korean conflict, the day was refocused to honor the service and sacrifice of the American veterans of all wars.

• Websites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veterans_Day

• Related Scriptures: Rom. 8:21; 2Cor. 3:17; Gal. 5:1; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 3:12;

• Books: The Wall, By: Eve Bunting

• Celebration Ideas:

1. Explain to your children what Veteran’s Day celebrates. Talk with them about the sacrifices (lives, families, health, etc) some people make, fighting in wars, to help secure our freedom. Then explain how Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for our ultimate freedom. That because of His death on the Cross, and victory over death, we can now walk in freedom in Him, eternally. Take some time to thank Christ for His sacrifice on the cross so that we can live and have freedom in Him.

2. Help the children write a heartfelt card/letter to a family member or someone else you know who is a veteran, thanking them for their service to our country, and for fighting so that we can live in freedom. Small children could draw/color a picture to include in the note. If you don’t know anyone who is a veteran, see if there are any veterans in your church, or you could contact a nursing home and see if there are any veterans there that you might be able to send a card/letter to.

3. Although this day is set aside to honor veterans of American wars, it is also fitting to remember to pray for the men and women who are currently fighting in the war. Take some time to pray with your family today for all those who are putting their lives on the line to fight for freedom, and to protect America.

Thanksgiving

• History/Description: An annual one-day holiday set aside for giving thanks at the conclusion of the harvest season. The United States celebrates Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. The Plymouth settlers (Pilgrims) set apart a holiday immediately after their first harvest in 1621, when they held an autumn celebration of food, feasting, and praising God. The Native American chiefs Massassoit, Squanto and Samoset joined in the celebration with ninety of their men in the three-day event. President Abraham Lincoln first declared Thanksgiving a Federal holiday..as a “prayerful day of Thankgiving” on the last Thursday in November.

• Websites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving, http://www.doorposts.net/free_resources/thanks-05.pdf, http://www.christianitytoday.com/cpt/9g6/9g6054.html,

• Books/Resources: Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas; Thanksliving Treasures from Family Life; Thanksgiving, What Makes It Special?
By: Harold Myra; Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration, By: Julie Stiegemeyer; The First Thanksgiving Feast, By: Joan Anderson; Let’s Celebrate God’s Blessing on Thanksgiving: Happy Day Holiday Book, By: Lise Caldwell, The Pumpkin Patch Parable, The Parable Series #1, By: Liz Curtis Higgs

• Related Scriptures: Psalm 69:30; Psalm 100:4; 1Tim. 4:4; Col. 2:6-7; Psalm 7:17; Psalm 106:1; 1Thess. 5:16-18

• Celebration Ideas:

1. Plan a Pilgrim scavenger hunt. Give each participant a basket and a list of items the Pilgrims might have been familiar with. Then hide these objects throughout the house or the yard for your kids to find: dried corn, small pumpkins, pinecones, a toy boat, small Native American figures.

2. Draw and cut out a large paper tree with lots of loose leaves in autumn colors. Mount the tree in a prominent place and put the leaves nearby in a box with glue and markers. Ask your family to write things they are thankful for on the leaves, filling the tree by the end of the month. Have your kids consider the following question:
“If I could keep only the gifts I’ve thanked God for today, what would I have?” Ask younger children: “What do you want to thank God for today?” Encourage your family to add to the tree daily.
3. Corrie ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place, teaches a great lesson in thankfulness. Share Corrie’s story with your kids, pointing out her struggle to be “thankful in all things.” She even thanked God for fleas in her barracks. She later learned that the fleas kept the guards away and allowed Corrie and others to study the Bible undisturbed.

4. Make a Blessing Basket – Place a pretty fall basket containing a pencil and pad of paper in an easy-to-reach location. Throughout the month, encourage family members to jot down ways God has blessed them. Younger children can draw or cut out pictures from magazines. Read these together and give God thanks each day or set aside some time on Thanks giving Day.

5. As a hospitality tradition, invite a few guests for Thanksgiving dinner who have no family and no where to go on Thanksgiving…widows, single adults, college students far from home, etc…

6. Make scripture place cards next to each persons’ place setting at the table. Have a scripture on there about thankfulness to help turn hearts and minds to Christ instead rather than only their food during the dinner.

7. Mayflower Dinner – go to this website – (http://www.doorposts.net/free_resources/thanks-05.pdf) for complete details of how to go about having a Mayflower Dinner. The basic idea is that you recreate what it might have been like for the pilgrims coming on the Mayflower, and talk about their faith in God through it all. It is a chance to study the history of the Pilgrims and their desire and quest for religious freedom. You begin preparing for this celebration 2-3 weeks before Thanksgiving. You can read some of the suggested stories (on the website) as you near the time for your Mayflower dinner. You then prepare a Mayflower dinner. For more details on all of the preparations, go to the website listed above

Advent

Celebrates: Beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, Advent celebrates both the birth of the Messiah and the return of the Messiah.

Websites:
• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent
• http://www.cresourcei.org/cyadvent.html
• http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByOccasion/2/

Themes & Scriptures:
There are many different suggested readings. The following websites have different selections. The 2nd two have rotating schedules for different years.
• http://www.catholic.org/clife/advent/index.php?id=18
• http://www.cresourcei.org/advent.html
• http://www.kencollins.com/Texts/advent/

The following reading schedule was taken from the first website:

1st Week 2nd Week 3rd Week 4th Week
Sunday Rom. 13:11-14 Rom. 15:4-13 Isa. 60: 1-3 Isa. 11:1-10
Monday 1 Cor. 1:3-9 Psa. 43:3-6 2 Cor. 4:3-6 Zeph. 3:14-17
Tuesday Mark 13:33-37 Psa. 27:1-4 1 John 1:4-7 Matt. 1:18-25
Wednesday John 1: 1-5 Psa. 119:105-106 John 3: 16-21 Luke 2:8-20
Thursday John 1:6-9 John 12:35-36 Isa. 40:1-11 Matt. 4:14-16
Friday Jer. 33: 14-16 Eph. 5:6-14 John 9:1-7 Isa. 2:1-5
Saturday Isa. 60:19-22 1 Pet. 2: 5-9 Luke 3:1-6 Luke 2:25-33

Family Activities:
• Daily Advent Readings and/or an advent wreath
• To symbolize the simultaneous waiting for Christ and preparing for His coming, space out decorating for Christmas throughout all of Advent. Hang a wreath one day, set up the tree a few days later, add lights a few days later. It will help to build the anticipation for Christmas morning. Use symbolism in decorating – lights, colors, shapes, etc.
• Similarly, space out family activities and crafts throughout the month of December to 1.) keep the family’s focus on the coming of Christ’s birthday rather than as a coming commercial holiday, and 2.)further build the excitement.
• Go Christmas Caroling (tell the good news), take a drive and look at Christmas lights (Jesus is the light of the world), make Christmas Cookies (Jesus is the bread of life), visit a nursing home (share God’s love), sponsor an Angel on the Angel Tree or something similar (Love your neighbor, Good Samaritan)
• Do a ‘traveling nativity’ beginning with Advent and ending on Christmas morning or January 6th – A traveling nativity reenacts the Christmas story throughout the entire season of Advent. Initially, the separate pieces are placed in various locations through the house, with the Angels and Baby Jesus reserved for Christmas morning. Set up the shepherds and their sheep somewhere near the manger, arrange the wise men the farthest away, with Joseph and Mary somewhere in between. Each week you’ll move them closer and closer towards their final destination. On Christmas morning Baby Jesus and the angels will be added to the scene, with the wise men arriving last. You can continue moving them closer to the nativity until they arrive on January 6th (Day of Epiphany) twelve days after Christmas during which time you can continue celebrating with a “12 Days of Christmas” theme. Another option is to add the wise men to the nativity scene Christmas night and do a bible study with it to close out Christmas Day.

Family Crafts:
• Purchase, or create together, an Advent Calendar
• Make ornaments for the Christmas Tree
• Make and mail homemade, Advent-minded Christmas cards
• Make a “Sugar Plum Christmas Tree” but use colors, shapes and candy names that symbolically represent Christ – Sugar Plum Tree idea taken from this website:

http://www.amazing-christmas-ideas.com/

• More crafts

http://www.first-school.ws/activities/bible/advent1.htm

http://www.dltk-holidays.com/Xmas/advent.html

http://www.kiddyhouse.com/Christmas/xmascrafts.html

Symbolic Colors, Etc.
Clear/Lights: Jesus Is the Light of the World
Red: Jesus is our Sacrifice
Yellow: Jesus is our Joy
Green: Jesus is Life
Blue: Jesus Is the Living Water
Purple: Jesus Is Our King
Pink: Jesus is Love
Gold/Silver: Jesus is our Treasure
Star: Jesus is our Guide
Bell: Jesus is the Good News
Evergreen Tree: Jesus is Everlasting
Wreath (Circular): Jesus Is, Was, and Will Be

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For example, see our 2007-2008 Advent Calendar. Feel free to print this off and modify as you need to.

December

  1. Advent Begins! Put up the Christmas tree with the lights and clear ornaments. Jesus is the light and we are called to reflect that light. (For an explanation of how and why we decorate our tree this way, see here.)
  2. Set up Advent Candle Wreath – Week 1 Reading; Set up “Traveling Nativity.”
  3. Hang purple ornaments (Jesus is our King) and wood nativity ornaments (Jesus is our Savior) on the tree.
  4. Hang wreath and garland.
  5. Add the silver ornaments (Jesus is precious) and gold ornaments (Jesus is our treasure) to the tree.
  6. Decorate with candles and angels. (Paper Plate Angel Craft)
  7. Hang blue ornaments (Jesus is the living water) and green ornaments (Jesus is everlasting life) to the tree.
  8. Make a Christmas table runner for the dining table. (I may actually sew something nice, or if not the kids will help me create something fun and crafty.)
  9. Put up the outside decorations. (Light up candy canes and lights – we don’t live somewhere for other people to see them, but I like to do a little bit just for us.) Also, Week 2 Advent reading.
  10. Put red ornaments (Jesus is our sacrifice) and pink ornaments (Jesus is love) on the Christmas tree.
  11. Mail Christmas cards and hang the Christmas stockings (We have no fireplace or mantel so we hang them on our wall as decorations until Christmas Eve.)
  12. Make Spiral Star Craft for ornaments or decorations.
  13. Make paper snowflakes.
  14. Make sheep ornaments. Jesus is our shepherd and we are his sheep.
  15. Read a Christmas story. (We have several and always try to rent several from the library – not the only time we’ll read a story, I’m sure.)
  16. Listen to Christmas Carols (certainly not the only time we’ll do this either!) Also, Week 3 Advent reading.
  17. Homemade Playdough Ornament Party -Have friends over to make ornaments out of homemade dough that you can bake in the oven and paint.
  18. Letters to Jesus – instead of writing letters to Santa asking for gifts, write letters to Jesus to express whatever their little hearts want to say. “Happy, Birthday, Jesus! I’m so glad you came and died and rose again so that I could know God..”
  19. Hang candy canes on the tree. Jesus is our shepherd.
  20. Read a Christmas story.
  21. Give a surprise gift or baked item to a friend or neighbor.
  22. Read a Christmas story; make Christmas Wassail.
  23. Drive around and look at Christmas lights. Also, Week 4 Advent reading.
  24. Christmas Eve – Either attending the Christmas Eve Service at church or celebrating with in-laws as is our tradition.
  25. Christmas Day!!Put Jesus in the manger, Christmas Day Advent reading, celebrate with family.
  26. Write thank you letters to God, for the blessings he provided, the good time we had with family, and most of all for sending Jesus.
  27. Write thank you notes for the gifts we received.
  28. Read another Christmas story.
  29. _break_ (starting to wind down.)
  30. _break_ (winding down..)
  31. New Year’s Eve Bible Study

January:

  1. New Year’s Peace Dove Craft.
  2. Take down some of the decorations.
  3. As a family, write down some goals for personal growth (in Christlikeness) for 2008.
  4. Take down some more decorations.
  5. _break_ (Winding down a little more.)
  6. Day of Epiphany: Finish the traveling nativity.
  7. Take down the rest of the decorations and store them away for next year.

Check out these suggested Advent readings

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Christmas Eve

Celebrates: Celebrations for Christmas Day often begin the evening before, on December 24th, which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of God’s promise for redemption.

Websites:
• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_Eve
• http://www.christmas-celebrations.com/christmas_eve.htm

Books:
• The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
• Santa Are You For Real by Harold Myra
• Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend
• Christmas Lizard by Cory Edwards

Themes & Scriptures:
1.) Sin & Redemption:
• Romans 3:9-26; Romans 5; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Colossians 1:20-22; Hebrews 9:11-28

Family Activities:
• Attend a Candlelight Christmas Eve Service
• Prepare a special evening meal, integrate the advent readings and/or advent wreath.

Family Crafts:
• Make a Gingerbread House http://crafts.kaboose.com/miniature-gingerbread-house.html
• Make a “Happy Birthday Jesus” cake for Christmas Day
• Make Christmas Candy

http://www.thatsmyhome.com/sugarplum/christmas-candy.htm

http://homeparents.about.com/od/candy/

http://www.cooksrecipes.com/holiday-recipes/holiday-candy-recipes.html

Christmas Day

Celebrates: Celebrating the birth of Jesus, the fulfillment of God’s promise for redemption.

Websites:
• http://christmas.howstuffworks.com/christmas.htm – Outlines the origins of many Christmas traditions and elements.
• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas
• http://www.allthingschristmas.com/

Themes & Scriptures:
1.) Humility & Service:
• Phil. 4:5-11; Matthew 20:28; Philippians 2:1-10; 1 Peter 1-11; Colossians 3:12-15

Family Activities:
• Before opening gifts, make and enjoy together a big, sit-down breakfast.
• If you have a big family and as a result your family ends up with a large quantity of gifts, consider dividing the gift opening throughout the day. Open some on Christmas Eve, some on Christmas morning, and some later Christmas Day. Or consider spacing them out over the next twelve days for the twelve days of Christmas.
• At the end of the day, thank God for all the gifts and blessings He has provided. Spend a moment in prayer. You could even finish with a Christmas hymn or two.

Family Crafts:
• Celebration Banner from “Celebrate The Holidays With Scripture” by Dorla Schlitt
• Make a paper plate angel or one of the other crafts from http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/christmas/

New Year’s Eve

Celebrates: A day of remembrance on January 31st for the year just ended and of looking forward to (and making resolutions for) the year ahead.

Websites:
• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year’s_Eve

Themes & Scripture:
1.) God is Faithful
• Psalm 106:1, Psalm 136, Lamentations 3:21-24, Jeremiah 29:11-14a, Joshua 23:14-16, Exodus 34:1-9, Psalm 36, Psalm 85, Psalm 119:89-96, Psalm 89
Family Activities:
• New Year’s Eve Sleepover – http://www.kidspartyfun.com/pages/themes/newyears.html
Family Crafts:
• New Year’s Serving Tray http://www.bhg.com/bhg/story.jsp?storyid=/templatedata/bhg/story/data/14074.xml
• Noise Makers http://www.holidaycrafts4kids.com/NYE_noise.htm

This is not an exhaustive list. Some holidays were excluded intentionally, some excluded due to the time constraints we had working on the original project.

If you enjoyed these resources, leave a comment and share it with a friend. Thanks!!

Amber

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