Local church to host Hanging of the Greens ceremony

Photo by Tucker Henderson
The sanctuary at St. Peter’s will be transformed during the evening of Nov. 23 as The Hanging of the Greens takes place and gets the church ready for the Christmas season.

By Tucker Henderson


As Advent starts Nov. 27 and lasts until Christmas Eve, there will be a number of Advent services in the churches around the area.

One unique example of this is The Hanging of the Greens at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in New York Mills. The annual event is always held on the Wednesday before Advent and often falls on the night before Thanksgiving. The event is one of explanation and learning for church members both new and old, as well as community members who don’t know the reasons behind some of the traditions that churches, especially St. Peter’s, participate in.

“The Hanging of the Greens is an annual service when we deck the halls for Advent and Christmas,” said St. Peter’s pastor Ryan Stout. “As each decoration or tradition is brought forward in the sanctuary, a reader explains its history and significance—why we do it, and how it relates to readying our community for Christmas—followed by a song. It’s a night of singing, prayer, and preparation.”

Stout explained that the history of the event goes back to an old tradition in the church where the decorating for Advent would be done after a Thanksgiving Eve meal held at the church. The men of the congregation would serve pie after the decorations had gone up in reward for those who did all the work. The decorating, which was once done with little ceremony and in haste for the Advent season, has now become a service of its own, and a congregational favorite at that.

“It is my favorite service because every action from decorating the tree to hanging wreaths is explained and we’re told why we do them,” said St. Peter’s member Shelley Wessels. “It’s a service of explanation and songs. It’s nice that so many things are done in the church, but sometimes people will say, ‘I didn’t know that!’ at this service when they are explained.”