Bring mindfulness to the holidays

Learn how an advent wreath can be a mindful practice that reconnects you with a sense of goodness.

The holidays are here and some traditions can be stressful. Getting a tree, decorating the house, baking cookies, participating in holiday parties and programs and of course buying and wrapping gifts can all become overwhelming. 

One of the traditions in our family is setting up an advent wreath and placing it on our dining room table as a centerpiece. Advent is a celebration to help prepare you for Christmas. 

There are four blue candles that make a circle around the evergreen wreath and one red candle centered in the middle. Each of the blue candles is lit each Sunday prior to Christmas and the middle candle is lit on Christmas day. Once Christmas arrives all the candles on the wreath are lit and burning bright. Each blue candle represents an attitude that helps you prepare for Christmas. 

The first blue candle is lit the first Sunday in December and represents Hope. The purpose is to focus or be mindful of the feeling of hope and to recognize it, name it and be grateful for it. The second Sunday’s candle represents Love. During the second week, we are meant to continue being mindful of hope as well as love and practice noticing this emotion and attitude. The third candle represents Joy. For this week we continue practicing the other attitudes and add joy by noticing and rejoicing. The fourth candle represents Peace.   

Practicing being aware and noticing is called mindfulness. When we are mindful of the hope, love, joy and peace around and within us, this helps us reconnect with a sense of goodness. When we consistently practice mindful awareness and looking for these qualities, our mindset tilts toward the positive.   

Michigan State University Extension provides a five-week series entitled Stress Less with Mindfulness. To find a class near you, contact your local MSU Extension office

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