Printable DIY Advent Calendars and Week 1--Hope


Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is always my favorite time of the year. I love the preparation building up to Christmas. It always seems like such a happy time to me. The lights are hung and trees get decorated. People seem a bit more bright and giving. This year even Advent is looking different. We are not physically in church yet, so there isn't the beautiful organ music of Advent songs. But even with Covid the meaning of Advent and Christmas remains. Jesus was born to save us from our sins. To celebrate Advent I created three printable "Advent Calendars". Now we have a beautiful wooden Advent calendar that I need to fill each year. I decided to use one of these in our Advent calendar and one in her lunch box (at least the days she will be in school). The first ones I have to share are the names of Jesus. I made two versions. The first is a small and plain one with the different names in different colors and fonts. 

I imagined using a 2-inch round punch or something of that size for them and letting the kids decorate themselves. Then I imagined making them into ornaments either for the tree or to put on a string to make a garland for the mantle or stairs. I don't have a 2-inch round punch but do have a hexagon punch around that size.

Then I got even more creative with the names of Jesus using My Memories program and made larger ornaments.

These can simply be printed out and cut out. I am going to have Hazel punch a hole in them and put string through it. We are going to hang them on a string to make a garland of the names of Jesus. There are 25 in the larger ones. 

The embellishments from My Memories decorates each one. I used these more decorative ones but may embellish with some of the smaller ones where I changed which names I used. You can download both versions here. The first two pages are the smaller set and the last four pages of the pdf file are the larger ones. 

My next idea for an Advent calendar came from Hazel asking which came first--the song or movie for Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The song did. I decided to do some research about Christmas Carols. Here is what I found.

1.  Did you know the oldest Christmas song is “Jesus Refulsit Omnium” or “Jesus Light of All Nations”? It was written by St. Hilary of Poitiers sometime in the 4th century. 

2.  Did you know the first true Christmas carol (as we think of them) is accredited to Saint Francis of Assisi in the 13th century? He wrote “Psalmus in Nativiate” in Latin. 

3.  Did you know carol means to dance in a ring? Christmas carols were once sung in pubs and not church. They were considered folk songs and originally folk dances. In 1880 the first carol service occurred in Truro, England. 

4.  Did you know that Charles Wesley wrote the original words to “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, but the words were changed to the Herald Angels by George Whitfield 20 years later? Wesley was not happy about it and did not want the blame of the word changed. Yet his name appears in the hymnals as the songwriter. 

5.  Did you know the words to “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” was written by James “Haven” Gillespie in 1934 shortly after his brother had just died? Remembering his childhood with his brother and his mother’s warnings to behave because Santa was watching inspired the words and he wrote them in 15 minutes. He asked composer John Coots to make up the music. The song became a hit within 24 hours of Eddie Cantor singing it on his show. The movie was produced in 1970 based on the song. 

6.  Did you know Deck the Halls words were rewritten to go with a Welsh tune that did not have the most innocent of words (and certainly not Christmasy)? Thomas Oliphant rewrote the words in the 1860s. However, his words were tweaked in printings between 1877 and 1881 to the words we know today. 

7.  Did you know one of the most popular Christmas carols is “The 12 Days of Christmas”? It was first published in England in 1780. Some believe the gifts are actually codes for Catholics who were not allowed to practice their own religion at the time.  

8.  Did you know “Joy to the World” was first published in 1719? It was written as a modern version of the last half of Psalm 98. The words were written by Isaac Watts. 

9.  Did you know the author of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is unknown? In the early 19th century, Anglican priest, John Mason Neale, was reading an ancient book of poetry and hymns and found an unknown Latin poem complete with music accompaniment.  Neale translated it into English and performed it for the people he served.

10.   Did you know Jingle Bells was written for Thanksgiving? The song was written by James S. Pierpont in 1857 for a local Sunday school entertainment in Savannah, Georgia. Its tune however was taken up by Christmas revelers. 

11.   Did you know “Frosty the Snowman” was the creation of Steve Edward Nelson and Walter “Jack” Rollins in 1950? They were looking for a follow-up to “Ruldolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” which was a #1 hit the previous year. In 1969 “Frosty the Snowman” was turned into the animated movie. 

12.   Did you know “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” was originally very glum? It was written by Hugh Martin for the 1944 movie musical Meet Me in St. Louis. Judy Garland sings the song to her little sister trying to cheer her up. Both Garland and director Vincente Minnelli were not happy with the earlier version and insisted on Martin changing the words. He first refused by got some sense talked into him to change it to the happier version we know today.

13.   Did you know “O Tannenbaum” or “O Christmas Tree” dates back to the 16th century? Melchoir Franck wrote the song about the tradition of bringing a small fir tree into one’s home and putting it next to the nativity scene. This tradition migrated to the U.S. from Germany with the immigrants. The lyrics were revised in 1819 by Joachim August Zarnack and in 1824 by Ernst Anschütz. As Christmas tree trimming caught on in the 1800s so did the song. 

14.   Did you know “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was written by Phillip Brooks after he rode on horseback from Jerusalem to Bethlehem in 1865? In Bethlehem he participated in the Church of the Nativity’s five-hour Christmas Eve celebration. Upon his return he wrote the song based on his own experiences. 

15.   Did you know that “Do You Hear What I Hear?” was written in 1962 as a plea for peace? Married couple Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker wrote the song. Normally Baker wrote the lyrics and Regney wrote the music, however it was reversed for “Do You Hear What I Hear?”. It was written during the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

16.   Did you know “Winter Wonderland” was written from the sickbed of Richard Smith? He was daydreaming of being outside in the snow like the kids he observed from his room. He was suffering from tuberculous. In 1934 he showed the lyrics to his friend and musician Felix Bernard. Smith died at the age of 34 a year after Bernard wrote the music to Smith’s poem.

17. Did you know “What Child Is This” was written by an insurance salesman? It was written by William Chatterton Dix at the age of 29. It is sung to the melody of “Greensleeves”. 

18. Did you know there are two melodies to “Away in a Manger”? In the U.S. the most popular melody is “Mueller” while in the U.K. it is the melody of “Cradle Song”. 

19. Did you know “Away in a Manger” was once called Martin Luther’s Cradle Hymn? Some believe Martin Luther wrote the first two verses and others say it is unknown who wrote it. The third verse was written by John T. McFarland in 1904. 

20. Did you know “O Come All Ye Faithful” is generally attributed to John Wade, a British exiled to living in France? Around 1741 he put the Latin text of “Adeste Fideles” to music. There are conflicting theories about whether he wrote the words or found them as an anonymous Latin hymn. It is thought that Abbe Etienne Jean Francois Borderies wrote three of the stanzas giving the song a total of eight verses. 21. Did you know “The First Noël” was originally written in the 13th or 14th century (medieval times)? It was based on Miracle Plays or dramatizations of favorite Bible stories for holidays. It is based on the Gospel accounts found in Luke 2 and Matthew 2. In 1833 William Sandys published a book with a collection of Christmas Carols with his own words. It is these words that we now know. 

22. Did you know in 1847 a parish priest in a small French town commissioned local poet Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure to write a poem for the village’s Christmas Eve service? Cappeau read the story in the Gospel of Luke while on a train traveling to Paris and had “O Holy Night” completed by the time he arrived in Paris. He asked his friend Adolphe Charles Adams to compose the music to it. 

23. Did you know “O Holy Night” was first very popular in France but when the Church of France found out it was written by a socialist (Cappeau) and a Jew (Adams) it was denounced as unfit for church? John Sullivan Dwight brought it to the U.S. during the Civil War. In 1871 even though it was banned in France a French soldier jumped out of the trenches on Christmas Eve and started singing the song. After singing all 3 verses, a German soldier emerged and sang a hymn by Martin Luther. Fighting stopped for the next 24 hours and the French re-embraced “O Holy Night”. 

24. Did you know that Josef Mohr and Franz Gruber wrote “Silent Night” in 1818? There are several versions of the story behind this but it is said that Pastor Mohr went to the church organist, Gruber, with a poem and gave him only a few hours to write the music to accompany it. It is now sung in over 300 languages around the world. 


Now I made these up as lunch box note cards. You can download them here. I added something to do with most of them. 

As always my printables are for personal use only. If you would like to share them with someone please send them here to download them directly.

Last week I shared my glitter ornaments. Four of them I made for the weeks of Advent. This week's focus is on the hope Jesus brings us.

This year has been filled with so much fear, loss, and doubt it can be hard to find hope. December here brings much shorter days. It gets dark so early and it can leave one feeling alone. Perhaps this is why I love thinking about Advent so much. With Jesus I know I am not alone. There have been sparks of hope throughout the year. It is the first time in a long time that people of all races came together in such numbers to fight racism. We see the hope in a vaccine and perhaps cure for Covid-19. We have hope with the changes the election brings in January. We can hope for a better and kinder country. We can hope for less hungry and homeless in our country and our world. We can hope for less violence. And of course we hope for world peace. 

Today I hope for a cure for Alzheimer's. It will be too late for my father, but I don't want others to have to suffer the way he does and our family does watching his mind decline. I hope for success for my daughter in whatever way her life leads. This is the first year I see a spark of happiness and confidence in her about school and I hope that grows and she continues to grow in positive ways. I see hope in my marriage. Although we have very different views politically and sometimes socially I know we love one another and support one another. I hope our love continues to grow. Life has so many things and reasons to be hopeful. What are some of yours. I hope you will ponder them this week with me.