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First Advent Posted by on Nov 29, 2008 in Culture

Tomorrow is the First Advent and I dutifully dragged out my Advent lights (the electric kind) only to find out they don’t work. Sometime between last December and today they decided to go to the Advent light heaven, or wherever it is that broken ornaments go. So my first Advent Sunday will be lightless. That’s what you get for being a master procrastinator and waiting till the very last minute.

I must say that setting up the Advent lights is one Swedish tradition I love the most. It’s so warm and welcoming to see them flickering in the windows. Yet the tradition itself is not as ancient as one may think. It became popular in Sweden sometime around the 1920s. Of course, in the beginning people used candles (and I shudder at the thought how many houses must have burned down.) Then in 1934 one Oscar Andersson designed an electric Advent light, it started to be mass produced in 1939, and the rest is history.

Traditionally, there were four Advent candles, and you light one each Advent Sunday. So on the fourth Sunday you end up with one long candle and a shorter one, and an even shorter one, and a very short one.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but traditionally the candles were put in windows facing to the North (something to do with the darkest dark of December) where the candles had a symbolic job of being a “light in the ocean of darkness.”

So, let’s recap in Swedish:

Adventsljusstake, adventsstake, är en ljusstake med fyra levande ljus. Denna används i adventstid. Adventsljus i hemmen blev vanliga i Sverige under 1920-talet och 1930-talet. Ordet adventsstake används även om elektriska ljusstakar med vanligtvis sju ljus i pyramidform. Svensken Oskar Andersson tillverkade världens första elektriska adventsljusstake.

And now I feel like I should at least look for some candles to stick in the window in the meantime. Or go to Ica MAXI tomorrow (it’s open on Sundays) and purchase a proper Advent light.

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  1. ceci:

    i think it must be a magical moment, i cant wait to live it on person…
    thanks anna

  2. David from Oregon:

    How do you make your electric Advent lights get shorter and shorter and shorter?

  3. Curre:

    David, it´s a well-kept swedish secret I´m afraid we can´t reveal 🙂

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