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Catholic Activity: O Antiphon House

For celebration of the O Antiphons from December 17-24, your family could prepare an O Antiphon House, a little cardboard house with eight hinged windows, each hiding the appropriate symbol for the O Antiphon of the day. There is also a ninth window depicting the Nativity scene for Christmas Day. The windows are opened one by one each day at the singing of the antiphon, or incorporated during the December 16-24 Christmas Novena. The house can be drawn on flat cardstock, or later shaped into a Tower, by bending the cardstock into a circle.


These instructions are based on ideas taken from Family Advent Customs by Helen McLoughlin, Twelve Days of Christmas by Elsa Chaney.

Take two sheets of colored poster board and lay them on a flat surface. Decide on the design of the house draw the design on all the pieces and cut out the shapes. Draw eight small square windows on the top piece of board and one large window for Christmas Day. Keep the size of all the windows the same (suggested size: 1 to 1 1/2" square) except for the one large window, which will be for Christmas Day (suggested size: 2" square), which should be the largest. The largest window will be opened last, and should be center top. Decorate the outside of the house.

Number the windows from 17-25, with 25 being the number of the large window. On a separate piece of paper draw the depiction of the O Antiphons to show through the windows ending with a picture of the Nativity scene from an old Christmas card. Suggested scenes: Madonna and Child, Jesus in the Manger, or Holy Family in the stable, etc.

Make each picture about 1/4" smaller than than the window, so there are no edges that can be disturbed in the window.

The following are the O Antiphons with suggested corresponding symbols:

O Antiphons and Corresponding Symbols: [top]
December 17:O WisdomOil lamp, open book, dove (Holy Spirit)
December 18: O Lord and RulerBurning bush, stone tablets
December 19:O Root of Jesseflower, plant with flower, root with flowering stem
December 20: O Key of DavidKey, broken chains
December 21:O Rising DawnSunrise, sun
December 22:O King of the Gentiles (Nations)Crown and scepter
December 23:O Emmanuel or O God With UsManger, Chalice and host, Crown with tablets
December 24: Christmas EveAltar for Mass
December 25: Christmas EveNativity scene, Christ child in manger
Now place the top sheet on a cutting board and carefully (reserve this job for an adult) cut three sides to each window with a razor or sharp craft knife, leaving the left side of the window intact to act as a hinge.

With a pencil, lightly mark through the windows the outline of the square. Cut out the pictures of the "O" Antiphons and glue them to the bottom poster board over the appropriate squares.

Carefully glue the two pieces of poster board together around the edges. With a clothespin hold the layers together until the glue is completely dry.

Hang the Advent house in the area used for family prayer, or display on a small easel.

Each day starting on December 17, open the appropriate window, have a short reading on the Antiphon of the day and sing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."

Jennifer Gregory Miller Jennifer G. Miller

Activity Source: Original Text (JGM) by Jennifer Gregory Miller, © Copyright 2003-2014 by Jennifer Gregory Miller

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