(Picture: Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash)
Whether you’re at church every Sunday or consider yourself an atheist, you’ve most likely had an advent calendar before.
In fact, advent calendars are such big business now, the humble piece of chocolate each morning pales in comparison to beauty advent calendars and the cheese or craft ciders selections you can pick from the best grown-up advent calendars.
We know that advent calendars give a little treat each day on the run-up to Christmas, but why? What is the significance of advent?
What is the meaning of advent?
For many Christians, the advent season’s main focus is on the countdown to Christ’s birth. The word advent is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning ‘coming.’
However, there’s a bit more to it than just that.
Originally, there was little connection between advent and Christmas.
Advent counts down to the coming of Christ and comes with a myriad of traditions, including church services focusing on different elements of the story (Picture: Getty)
Christianity.com explains that scholars believed during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus, his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, and his first miracle at Cana.
By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied advent to the second coming of Christ, in what many might refer to now as Judgement Day.
It was around the Middle Ages that the advent season became a countdown to the birth of the baby Jesus on Christmas Day.
Today, advent lasts for four Sundays and the following weeks. This takes us from Advent Sunday through to every day in December, until Christmas Eve.
The advent season has been used to countdown to Christ’s birth on 25 December since around the Middle Ages (Credits: Getty Images)
What is Advent Sunday?
Advent Sunday is also known as the First Sunday of Advent, and marks the first day of the advent season.
On the First Sunday of Advent, Christians start lighting their advent wreaths, and praying their advent daily devotional.
Commonly, churches build wreaths of four purple candles, lighting a new one as each of the four Sundays/weeks pass – starting with the First Sunday of Advent.
On Christmas Day, a fifth candle is lit to represent Jesus Christ. Usually, it’ll be white or gold. You may hear this type of wreath referred to as an ‘Advent crown’.
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