The season of Advent (Latin adventus, "coming") is the anticipation of the coming of Christ at Christmas and marks the beginning of the church year. In the Western churches, it encompasses four Sundays, beginning with the Sunday nearest to November 30 and ending on Christmas Eve. In Eastern Orthodox churches, Advent is longer, usually beginning on November 15.
History of Advent
Historically, Advent is a period of fasting, repentance, and preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ second coming and the Day of Judgment. It is unknown exactly when Christians began to observe Advent.
In the 5th century, the Bishop of Tours instituted a fast beginning on November 11, and the acts of the Council of Tours in 567 mention an Advent season. In 581, a synod in Gaul declared that from November 11 to Christmas, the mass shall be performed using the Lenten rite on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of each week.
Observing Advent can vary due to denominational distinctives or cultural traditions. Fasting is generally no longer observed, except in some Eastern churches. The royal colors of blue and purple are incorporated into most Advent services.
The most popular observance of Advent is the Advent Calendar, usually made of several layers of cardboard or paper. Children open a new "door" each day of Advent to reveal a small toy or chocolate treat.
- "Advent." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2003. Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
- Bowker, John, ed., Oxford Concise Dictionary of World Religions.
- Mershman, Frances, "Advent." Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. 1907.
Further Reading on Advent
- The Season of Advent - Church of Scotland online
- The Christian Season of Advent - Christian Resource Institute (Methodist)
- Selection of Advent Services - Episcopal Church
- Advent Addresses and Services from the Pope in Recent Years - Vatican
- Why Celebrate Advent? - Catholic Online