Today is the beginning of Advent, the four-week period preceding Christmas during which the imminence of the birth of Jesus - and of the holiday - is celebrated. The name "Advent" actually comes from the Latin "ad venire", meaning "to come here". In Germany, this period is traditionally celebrated with an Adventskranz ("Advent wreath"), a thick wreath of greenery decorated with small Christmas tree ornaments, ribbons, and four candles. On each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas,which in Germany is celebrated on December 24th, one more candle is lit, so that by Christmas all four candles are burning. The most traditional Adventskranz is a thick, tight wreath of fir branches with short bright red candles and ornaments ranging from small pine cones to red ribbon. Such wreaths can be seen in practically every German florist's shop and supermarket in late November and early December. My mom usually prefers a somewhat more modern take on this tradition and usually designs her own version of the Adventskranz. As can be seen in the picture, this year she opted for a color scheme of pale green and white. She found a wreath of dried bay laurel and olive branches and adorned it with white wooden snowflake ornaments and a white crystal bird ornament. The candles she chose are a bit bigger than the usual ones and instead of setting them on the wreath itself she placed them in a block in the center. Personally, I think it worked out very well.