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10 Things I Bet You Didn't Know About Advent

Years ago I started researching a book about celebrating Advent. I learned so many things along the way! Here are ten of my favorite unusual discoveries about Advent.

1) Plum pudding has zero plums in it and sits in your cupboard for five weeks!

In England and Ireland, plum pudding is an extremely popular dessert served on Christmas Day. Although called “plum pudding”, plums are actually never used. This is because the word “plum” in Victorian times referred to raisins. So you’ll find raisins and other dried fruits but no plums. The other thing that I did not know about plum pudding is that it is made right at the beginning of Advent. This means that by the time you eat it, it has been sitting in your pantry for five weeks. Five weeks everybody! Good thing it gets doused with brandy right before it’s served!

2) St. Francis of Assisi came up with the first Nativity Scene.

Ever drive through the live nativity scenes that a local church puts on? Well, you owe a big thank you to St. Francis of Assisi. That’s right, the animal-loving, father of the Franciscan order of monks, St. Francis of Assisi. In 1223, St. Francis came up with the idea of having a live nativity scene with real people and real animals in his hometown of Greccio, Italy. The idea of a nativity scene in one’s town quickly spread throughout Christendom and is one of our most enduring Advent traditions.

3) In Brazil, Christians have a tradition called “Los Pastores” or “The Shepherds.”

Like many other Christians around the world, Brazilian Christians attend folk plays depicting the story of the birth of baby Jesus. Only in Brazil, there’s a bit of a kick… Baby Jesus gets kidnapped. In the Brazilian version, instead of male shepherds, the shepherds are females and visit baby Jesus with someone they don’t know. The rest of the play is filled with drama, cliffhangers, and suspense when the stranger kidnaps baby Jesus.

P.S. – If you are worried about the outcome of baby Jesus, he is safely rescued by the end of the play!