Membership User Guide
Advent blessings to you and yours from me and mine! It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of liturgical living one could do during the month of December. But not to worry, you DO NOT have to do it all! Especially if you’re new to Catholic traditions like these, I recommend choosing a few new practices to incorporate each year. In this box, you’ll find some of our family’s favorites: speculaas cookies and fragrant hot drinks for the feast of Saint Nicholas, straw ornaments and saffron buns for Saint Lucy’s Day, and drinking the love of Saint John for his feast day. I hope they’ll become family favorites in your home as well.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel!
Correction: All November liturgical boxes include two stickers to correct an error on the 2023-2024 Academic Calendar. The Catholic New Year begins on December 2, 2023, not November 25, 2023. Please place these stickers over the corresponding dates!
PDF booklets of prayers and devotions are available for the month of July covering many of the feast day traditions this month.
- Catholic All December Prayer Booklet
- Advent Wreath Prayers Booklet
- Hymns and Carols for Advent and Christmas Booklet
- Christmas Novena Booklet
- At Home Nativity Play Script Booklet
Nota Bene: Monthly prayer booklets and other liturgical living resources including posters, hymns, and recipes are included with the CAY Membership, and are available as print-at-home PDFs or as prints shipped to you.
CAY Videos are available on YouTube and FORMED
ST. NICHOLAS - 12/6
Also known as Santa Claus (from the Dutch “Sinterklass”), he was a fourth-century Greek bishop who was present at the First Council of Nicea. Legends and stories abound, but perhaps the best known concerns his habit of secret gift-giving, including bags of gold to three poor sisters who otherwise couldn't afford the dowries necessary to be married.
Our kids will have found their shoes this morning, with a book and a few treats from Saint Nick. (If you forgot last night, I’ve heard that he often swings by tonight to do a final check for the shoes of kids observing Advent! 😁😁) Tonight we’ll eat speculaas cookies and drink bisschopswijn (mulled wine). The recipe we use can be found on the CAY website, but I’ve also sometimes grabbed windmill-shaped speculaas cookies at Dollar Tree. Trader Joe's and Aldi also usually have a version of speculaas / speculoos / spekulatius cookies. Really, any gingerbread-style cookie will do!
SAINT NICK COOKIE-MAKING SET
A cookie cutter in the good bishop’s shape, plus a handy dandy squeeze bottle for decorating.
SPECULAAS COOKIE + ROYAL ICING RECIPE CARD
This spice-heavy traditional Dutch cookie recipe and royal icing is perfect for enjoying on the saint’s feast day. Freeze extras for cookie plates for neighbors, friends, and Santa!
Download the digital recipe card here.
SAINT NICHOLAS MULLING SPICES + INFUSER
This fragrant mix of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and dried orange peels is perfect for making mulled wine or cider to enjoy alongside your cookies. The three-inch ball infuser is great for mulling spices or loose-leaf tea. Hand wash only, please.
ST. LUCY - 12/13
The name Lucy (or Lucia) means light, which makes St. Lucy’s Day a particularly welcome celebration for a long, dark, mid-December night.
What we know for sure about St. Lucy is that she was martyred in Sicily during the Diocletianic Persecution of AD 304. She is one of seven holy women who, along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.
There are celebrations associated with St. Lucy in Sicily and all over the world. But perhaps most familiar to Americans are the Scandinavian St. Lucy traditions. In the depths of winter in Northern Europe, it’s dark almost all day long, with just a few hours of twilight where the sun peeks over the horizon before setting again. It’s easy to understand why they would seek out the saint of light! (Excerpt from the CAY Compendium)
STRAW STAR OF BETHLEHEM CRAFT KIT
Natural straw, natural linen thread, pins, and a template to make eight lovely traditional Scandinavian straw ornaments. Use them to decorate your tree, or string them as a garland.
Additional copies of the straw star template can be printed at home and placed on a piece of cork or several layers of felt. Find the template PDF in the CAY membership library here.
SAINT LUCY WOODEN CANDLE HOLDER
Saint Lucy is the saint of light in the darkness of winter. This CAY exclusive custom-designed candle holder is sure to drive away the gloom. Also included: a natural beeswax tealight candle.
Nota bene: We experienced an issue with our laser cutter, so the holder no longer has a base. The four sides click together, but can be glued for more stability!
SAINT LUCY SAFFRON BUNS RECIPE CARD
These buns, known as lussekatter, are traditionally enjoyed in Sweden for the feast of Saint Lucy and throughout Advent. On the morning of Saint Lucy’s Day, a daughter of the household dresses in a white dress with a red sash, with a crown of lit candles and fresh greenery to wake the rest of the family with hot saffron buns and fresh coffee.
Download the digital recipe card here.
Don’t have time to make the full saffron bun recipe? We have a cheater canned cinnamon roll bun recipe here!
ST. JOHN - 12/27
John is the author of the gospel of Saint John, plus the three Epistles of Saint John (probably), and the Book of Revelation. He doesn’t mention himself by name in his gospel, instead calling himself “the Beloved Disciple” or “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
He was the youngest of the apostles, and he lived to be the oldest, surviving his brother James by more than fifty years. He was almost a hundred years old when he died.
By tradition, he is the only one of the twelve apostles to die of natural causes. But that’s through no fault of his own. He survived being boiled in oil by the Roman emperor Domitian, and drinking a cup of poisoned wine given to him by the same. (For this reason, he is often painted with a cup of wine hiding a little dragon or snake!) His reward for having the gall to survive such attacks was to be exiled to the island of Patmos until the emperor’s death. He spent many decades sharing the gospel and the love of Christ. Saint Jerome tells us that when Saint John was a very old man, and could no longer walk or speak in public, he would ask to be carried to visit the faithful, saying to them only, “My dear children, love one another.”
THE LOVE OF SAINT JOHN WINE GLASS
The feast of Saint John is a day on which to have wine blessed, by a priest if possible, by the head of the household if not. A PDF version of the at-home blessing for wine is available in the Membership Library here. Sitting around the dinner table, the head of the household pours blessed wine into the glass. He then takes the glass, and lifts it up to the person sitting to his right and says, “I drink to you the love of St. John," and takes a drink. His neighbor answers, "I thank you for the love of St. John," and takes the glass and takes a drink, then turns to the person to his right and it starts over. Each person around the table, young and old, drinks from the cup (twice) and gives and receives the love of St. John!
BLESSED WINE STORAGE BOTTLE
Save the end of your blessed wine in this glass storage bottle with dropper. Add a few drops to new bottles of wine all year long, to keep the love of Saint John with you always. Remember, as the saint said, “My dear children, love one another.”