Daily Decoration: O Antiphons calendar

Eight purple cards strung across the front of an upright piano. All but one of them has a circle of card with the letter O on it. The right hand most card only has a star painted on it. On the left hand most card the circle has been opened to reveal a second one, whcih has a letter S.

Now we’re getting into the final stretch. Now the O Antiphons come out. Every day from now until the 23rd, one of these invocations frames the Magnificat at Evening Prayer, each of them another way to think of Christ. O Sapientia. O Adonai. O Radix Jesse. O Clavis David. O Oriens. O Rex Gentium. O Emmanuel.

Read backwards, in Latin, the initials spell out ERO CRAS. Tomorrow, I come. My suspicion is that this is just coincidence, but it’s a nice coincidence.

Today is O Sapientia. O Wisdom.

Really, making them into a calendar seemed like the obvious thing to do. This is made of Graze boxes, of which I used to have quite a few before I got fed up with all the plastic. Graze boxes, and a lot of purple paint, and quite a bit of gold paint, and gold gift ribbon, and five wooden beads to slip under the lid of the piano and keep it in place.

Of course, since it works like any other Advent calendar, I could have arranged the whole thing backwards to make the acrostic work out. But that would mean committing to thinking it deliberate, so I’m going to leave it. For the moment, at least.

Daily Decoration: Fling Wide The Doors

A six-sided Advent calendar illuminated from within. One window is open, showing Christ in Majesty

This year for my Advent blog series I’m going with an idea that’s intrigued me for a while: I’m going to pick one decoration every day, and write about it. Having got all the Christmas boxes down from the loft (causing some damage to the loft hatch) yesterday, I am at least confident that I have far more than twenty-four of the things.

Of course, this may not be the best timing, since this year we’ve acquired a cat with an unshakeable conviction that anything sparkly, trailing, or both, is hers to chase and destroy. In previous years, we know, she has shredded an angel and made herself sick eating lametta. Also, I’m not at home all the way through December so may have to skip or improvise a few days. But we’ll see how it goes. (I think we’ve got rid of all the lametta, for a start.)

This object might be familiar: I’ve certainly featured it in previous Advent series, and usually early on in the season. Every January I close all the doors again and flatten it carefully and put it away for next year. It isn’t exactly a decoration, though it’s certainly decorative. It has a title (not sure I’ve ever come across an Advent calendar with a title before): Fling Wide The Doors. It’s an Advent calendar, but it runs all the way to the Baptism of Christ. It’s designed for children, but I find it helpful even after several years’ consecutive use. It looks fabulous with a light inside (after some experimentation, I’ve taken to using a USB bottle-stopper light in an empty gin bottle; very Anglican, I know). It engages with some heavy subjects (see the skeletons at Our Lord’s feet?) but in such a way as to make me always want to open the next day’s door, or doors. (There isn’t one for tomorrow, though. It picks up with St Andrew on the 30th.)

Anyway, I love Advent, with all its glory and terror and anticipation, and this calendar gets all of that. To a surprising extent, considering it’s just made of cardboard and tracing paper.

(Incidentally, if you watch the Advent Procession at Ely Cathedral, you get to see me reading the second lesson. Purple coat, 28 minutes in.)