In most, though not all, Christian traditions, today, November 27 marks the first Sunday of Advent. Advent comes from the Latin adventus a word related to “coming.” The season consists of the four Sundays before Christmas, and ends on Christmas Eve, as we symbolize the wait for Christ to come as a baby born in Bethlehem. It also marks the beginning of the liturgical year.

No one can say for sure when this festival started. We know it was in existence by 480 C.E., but that is the farthest back it can be traced with reliability. In the old days, this was a much more serious and solemn time of year and was treated much as lent is before Easter, a time of fasting and repentance. It was sometimes called the Nativity Fast.

The usual liturgical color associated with Advent is purple, signifying royalty, or blue, signifying hope. Traditionally three candles in the Advent wreath are purple, though that can also vary. The first candle is associated with the patriarchs of the Old Testament and is sometimes called the candle of expectation or hope. The second is associated with the prophecy of Christ’s birth and may be called the candle of prophecy, or of peace. The third, often a rose color, is the candle of joy, signifying the birth announcement by the angels to the shepherds. The forth is sometimes called Mary’s candle and is often called the candle of love.

In Christian tradition, the month of December is known as Advent; Christmas begins on December 25 and continues 12 days to January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany when the Wise Men visited Jesus and his family. That’s where the song The Twelve Days of Christmas comes from. So rather than Merry Christmas, allow me to wish you a Happy Advent!


Quotes about Advent

Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God’s own love and concern.–Mother Teresa

Advent is the time of promise; it is not yet the time of fulfillment. We are still in the midst of everything and in the logical inexorability and relentlessness of destiny…–Alfred Delp

These special holidays give rise to various liturgical calendars that suggest we should mark our days not only with the cycles of the moon and seasons, but also with occasions to tell our children the stories of our faith community’s past so that this past will have a future, and so that our ancient way and its practices will be rediscovered and renewed every year.–Brian D. McLaren

What has happened to the old-fashioned, spiritual Christmas? The cause is our disregard of Advent. The church set aside this four-week pre-Christmas season as a time of spiritual preparation… It is a time of quiet anticipation.–John R. Brokhoff

Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man. Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us … a healing memory; it brings hope.–Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Advent is the perfect time to clear and prepare the Way. Advent is a winter training camp for those who desire peace. By reflection and prayer, by reading and meditation, we can make our hearts a place where a blessing of peace would desire to abide…–Edward Hays

Life is a constant Advent season: we are continually waiting to become, to discover, to complete, to fulfill. Hope, struggle, fear, expectation and fulfillment are all part of our Advent experience. … May this Advent season be a time for bringing hope, transformation and fulfillment into the Advent of our lives.–Unknown

It is fitting that the feast of St. Nicholas comes at the beginning of Advent and the beginning of the shopper’s season. As the patron saint of shoppers he proclaims, “Keep it simple!” Keep it simple enough to fit in a shoe or a stocking.–Edward Hays

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