The word Advent is from the Latin adventus for "coming" and is associated with the four weeks of preparation for Christmas. Advent always contains 4 Sundays, beginning on the Sunday nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, (November 30) and continuing until December 24.

Advent is a penitential season, like Lent.  It is a liturgical theme of preparation for:  1) the Second and Final Coming of the Lord, called the Parousia, and 2) a joyful theme of getting ready to celebrate the birhthday of our Lord in Bethlehem over 2,000 year ago.

Since the 900s Advent has been considered the beginning of the Church year. This does not mean that Advent is the most important time of the year. Easter has always been the most important celebration time.

The traditional color of Advent is purple or violet which symbolizes the penitential spirit. Religious traditions associated with Advent express all these themes.

Advent Wreath

"Customarily the Advent Wreath is made of a circle of evergreen branches with four candles. According to tradition, three of the candles are violet and the fourth is rose. However, four violet or white candles may also be used” (Book of Blessings 1510).

The rose candle is lit on the Third Sunday of Advent.  The rose color anticipates and symbolizes the Christmas joy announced in the first word of the Entrance Antiphon: "Rejoice" (Latin, Gaudete). For this reason the Third Sunday is also called Gaudete Sunday, and the priest can wear rose colored vestments for Mass that day.

The Advent Wreath represents the long time when people lived in spiritual darkness, waiting for the coming of the Messiah, the Light of the world. Each year in Advent people wait once again in darkness for the coming of the Lord, Jesus' historical coming 2000 years ago in Bethlehem, His final coming at the end of time, and His special coming in every moment of grace, like communion at Mass!!!

During Advent, family and friends can gather around the Advent Wreath lighting the appropriate candle(s), read from the daily Advent meditation and sing songs. The Church's official Book of Blessings also provides a blessing ceremony for the advent wreath which can be used.

Many people have an advent calendar in their house to count the days until Christmas.  Some calendars are purchased in the store and have windows that open for each day before Christmas that may reveal a bible quote or some children calanders have chocolate!  A calendar can also be home-made for the four weeks before Christmas. A person can also mark the Advent Calendar with personal goals of preparation or acts of service to be done for others.

Advent Calendar

Natvity Scene
The tradition of having a nativity scene or "crèche" was made popular by St. Francis of Assisi. It is a reproduction of the cave in Bethlehem with Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus in a manger, shepherds, angels, and animals. Each night during Advent, children are encouraged to place in the manger one piece of straw for each good deed done that day by a family member. The baby Jesus is usually hidden until Christmas eve when he is placed in the manger with great devotion.  This Advent tradition combines the spirit of conversion and the coming of Jesus. There is a blessing ceremony provided by the Church in the Book of Blessings for the crèche.



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