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.
In case you are looking for some inspiration, I've listed some of the treats I've given my family over the years (along with my picks for this year)... Special food ideas, activities and gifts (or you can simply decorate chocolate coins!) for each of the O Antiphons can be found below.
Once again I am hosting an O ANTIPHON GIVEAWAY! One lucky visitor here at Shower of Roses will receive a gift package including seven Cookie Stamps, one to represent each of the seven O Antiphons! I also have a sweet hand-painted nativity set to give away as well. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post for the details and to enter.
.: December 17th - O Sapientia (O Wisdom) :.
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 usually choose a new Catholic book for our family. This year I went with a game focusing on the time period most of our children are currently studying. Looks fun!
A Few Ideas:
- Bible Cookies or Bible Candies
- Brain Food (Dark Chocolate, Deviled Eggs, etc - I'm hoping to tuck some of the Theo Christmas Bars into stockings this Christmas.)
- Play a Trivia Game (Christmas Trivia, Catholic Trivia, Cranium)
- Play SaintCards, Saint Memory, or Catholic Quiz games
- Bookmarks or Holy Cards
- Family Prayer Book, Catechism, or other Book (The Christmas Book, The Catechism in Pictures with review here, Jesus Make Me Worthy, My Catholic Faith, A Catholic Child's Picture Dictionary, Around the Year: Once Upon a Time Saints, etc... The possibilities are endless.)
- Books including An Alphabet of the Altar, The Wonder Story and The Wonder Days from St. Augustine Academy Press.
.: December 18th - O Adonai (O Lord) :.
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!
- Ten Commandment Cookies
- Cookies made with this Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter or these cute 3-D Mini Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter made by Sweet Creations, emphasizing the word "house"
- Pull out the Smore's Maker or light a bonfire and Roast Marshmallows, in reference to "Moses in the burning bush"
- Decorate Gingerbread Houses (my girls surprised me with this pan one year)
- Notre Dame 3-D Church Puzzle or Midnight Mass Puzzle
- Father Leopold Lego Set or Architecture Blocks would also tie in nicely
- Discuss the various names for Our Lady, including House of Gold! The Virgin Mary Around the World or any of the Marian dolls (Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Czestochowa, Our Lady of China, Our Lady of Vailankanni, etc) would be perfect.
.: December 19th - O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse) :.
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.
Our 2020 Family Ornament is wrapped up for the 19th.
Now to see if we can manage to get a family picture to add to it this year!
This year the birthday boy choose a Hobbit Theme Birthday! This gives me so many additional options, but it's also Ember Saturday so that makes it challenging... I'll include meat at the main meal and probably keep treats to a minimum so it's not too tempting for those of us who will be fasting. Roasted Root Veggies, Root Beer, and a small Hobbit Hole Birthday Cake are on the menu.
A Few Ideas:
- Root Beer Floats or Carrot Cake
- Roasted Root Vegetable, Hearty Healing Beef Stew or Hamburger Stew... Yum!
- Purchase a Christmas Poinsettia (In the past we have also incorporated other Poinsettias: 12 Red Glitter Poinsettia Ornaments, Miracle of the Poinsettia, or Poinsettia Cupcakes)
- Play some sort of Gardening or Nature Game as a Family (perhaps Wildcraft! An Herbal Adventure Game, Gathering a Garden, or The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game!)
- A new "Family" Ornament
- Old Fashioned Root Beer Drops
- Bonus: You could even have a Jesse Tea! From Jesse, the shepherd, to Jesus, the Good Shepherd... Shepherds tie in nicely!
- Shepherd and Angel playlet from Shining Light Dolls
- Shepherd Puzzle Set made by Naturally Catholic
.: December 20th - O Clavis David (O Key of David) :.
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.
Christmas Jingle Bells! I was gifted with a set of these from Pinecone Leather Co this year.
(I love the description over on Etsy sharing their family's tradition.)
I also have a Key Lime Pie and some Sparkling Ciders to pull out and enjoy after our Sunday dinner.
A Few Ideas:
- Key Lime Pie
- Special drink (Sparkling cider!) with dinner or for a family game night. Since this is initially a monastic tradition, and on this night, the monk in charge of the wine cellar would provide a special bottle of wine.
- Surprise the family with tickets ("key") to something local - Christmas play, the Nutcracker, etc. One year I took our older children to see A Christmas Carol at the theatre.
- Key Puzzle/Brainteaser
- Tiny Saints Key Hooks (One year I purchased a couple key hook rails to use to hang our Rosaries. You can see them in our old home in this post.)
- Advent At Ephesus or Caroling at Ephesus
- Incorporate Music "keys" with Catholic Songs for Children CD, Sheet Music Book and St. Cecilia Doll
.: December 21st - O Oriens (O Dayspring) :.
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'll give them all their new Christmas pj's and make hot cocoa too.
A Few Ideas:
- O Dayspring Ice Cream
- Non-Alcoholic Mimosas or Texas Sunrise with Breakfast
- Decorate a Christmas Candle (We use a tiny wax baby Jesus I purchased years ago along with Gold Decorating Beeswax from Stockmar.)
- Our favorite tradition for this O Antiphon is to pile in the car after dinner with hot cocoa and drive around to look at all the Christmas lights.
- Candles from The Cloister Shoppe
- Our Lady of Fatima: The Graphic Novel (miracle of the sun)
- Grimm's CASA SOLE Stacking Blocks (The set we have isn't currently available. Other options can be found online and over at Etsy including: Sun Stacker and Mountain with Sun Stacker)
- New Christmas Pajamas
.: December 22nd - O Rex Gentium (O King of the Gentiles) :.
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!
A Few Ideas:
- Crown Cake, Cupcakes or Cookies
- Bake Cookies using the Wise Men Cookie Stamp from Rycraft, Inc
- Assemble a Three Kings Puzzle or Nativity Snow Globes Puzzle
- Listen to King of the Golden City CD
- One year I picked out one of the beautiful sets of Three Komgs Gifts - we pull it out every Christmas!
- Rex Gentium Nail Polish
- Twas the Evening of Christmas Picture Book - Our daughter received this one year on the feast of St. Nicholas. It's such a lovely book!
- Three Kings Playset from Shining Light Dolls
.: December 23rd - O Emmanuel (O With Us is God) :.
O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!
Nativity Icon from Clear Creek Abbey
A Few Ideas:
- Make a Chocolate Nativity Scene for Christmas
- Decorate Nativity Cookies to give as gifts or Cookie Cutters Tell the Christmas Story
- Holy Family Puzzle
- Decorate Chocolate Christmas Coins using this FREE Printable
- Children's Nativity Set - you can find some of our favorites in this post and more of our collection here (scroll down a bit)
- Christmas picture books, coloring books including the beautiful Eucharistic Adoration: With Saints And Symbols Of The Eucharist coloring book, or the Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring: Christmas with The Dominican Sisters of Mary.
- A Child's Christmas ABC Book (review here)
- The Holy Family Nativity Playset from Shining Light Dolls
Scroll through all the past "O Antiphon" posts here.
The winner will receive one of each!
Wisdom: #460 – Triune God
House: #214 – Home Sweet Home
Root of Jesse: #520 – Willow Tree
Key of David: #543 – Key to My Heart
Dayspring: #291 – Moravian Star
King: #448 – Norwegian Wedding Crown
Emmanuel: #368 – Nativity
Sponsored by Rycraft Cookie Stamps
(7 cookie stamps with recipe booklet @ $12.99 ea = $90.93 value)
Enter the Giveaway using the Rafflecopter Box below:
Read more about our family's traditions here: