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What is Advent anyway?

Updated: Feb 1, 2023



Advent comes from the Latin word, "adventsus" which means coming or arrival. In the New Testament, this term is used to describe the Second Coming of Christ. Advent is known traditionally as the period preceding the Christmas season. It begins on the Sunday nearest November 30th and covers four Sundays. In 2019, Advent begins on December 1st. The word “advent”, from Latin, means “the coming”. For centuries, Advent has been a time of spiritual reflection as well as cheer and anticipation. Advent is a season of the Christian church (not just the “Catholic church”). Advent represents the approach of Christ’s birth (and fulfillment of prophecies about that event) and the awaiting of Christ’s second coming.

For us, Advent can be the most special part of celebrating Christmas. Christmas celebrates the day our almighty God stepped into history as a human being and freed us from our sin and offered us eternal life. During Advent, we can observe a time of reflection about the amazing gift that God gave us in the person of Jesus who came to dwell among us on earth. It is also an opportunity to restore Jesus to His rightful place as the center of our CHRISTmas celebrations.

Advent has probably been observed since the fourth century. Originally, it was a time when converts to Christianity readied themselves for baptism. This period involved prayer and fasting in preparation for baptism. Advent was considered a pre-Christmas season similar to Lent when Christians devoted themselves to prayer and fasting.

Sometime in the sixth century, the focus of Advent shifted to the Second Coming of Christ. Sometime in the 1500s, an additional focus on the anticipation before Christ’ birth was added to that of His second coming.

Advent Wreaths

One of the ways we can join in the celebration of Advent is with an advent wreath. This circle of evergreen boughs reminds us of God’s forever love, a love that has no beginning and no end.

An advent wreath traditionally contains four candles-three purple and one rose. Purple dyes were one so rare and costly that they were associated with royalty (Jesus). The three purple candles are lit on the first, second, and fourth Sundays of Advent. The rose candle is usually lit on the third Sunday.

The symbolism of the candles has various interpretations. However, the focus in any proper advent celebration should be the great news that the Messiah was and is coming and how we live out our heartfelt for Him to come again.

How have you celebrated Advent?

What unique ways have you made an Advent wreath?

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