Advent is one of my favorite times of year. It is truly a time for beginnings. Everything is always so promising, and it’s a great way to look forward to the Christmas season.
But there are some things that you may not have known about Advent and why we celebrate it. So I am going to do my best to break it down and answer a few questions.
1. What is Advent?
Advent is the period of preparation for the birth of Christ. It happens over the course of 4 Sundays before Christmas. During this time of preparation—we prepare our homes, our minds and spirits for Jesus.
Not only are we looking forward for him to being born, but we are looking forward to receive Him and we are looking forward for him to come again in the end of time.
One of the major elements of Advent is waiting. It is during this time period that we must be patient.
2. What do we do to prepare?
One thing that we do is decorate our homes and put up Christmas Trees. The Church however, does not put up Christmas decorations until Christmas Eve, and they light the decoration for the first time on Christmas Day.
Another tradition (that could be long forgotten) was to fast during this time period so that when we feast (Christmas Day) it is well worth denying ourselves little pleasures. The fasting would be similar to the fasting that occurs during the Lent season. We abstain from meat on Fridays, or not eat between meals.
3. What is one way we celebrate Advent?
One of the most common way to celebrate Advent is with an Advent wreath. The wreath consists of 4 candles—3 purple and 1 pink. Each week one candle is lit (the pink one is lit on the 3rd Sunday).
Each candle is supposed to represent every 1000 years, from Adam and Eve until the birth of Christ.
The wreath is usually made up of evergreens which symbolizes continuous life. Even this can be broken down further:
Laurel signifies victory over persecution over suffering.
Pine, Holly and Yew symbolizes immortality
Cedar symbolizes strength and healing
On another note, Holly’s prickly leaves reminds us of the crown of thorns.
Here you can find more information about the tradition of the Advent wreath.
4. But I’m not Catholic, can I celebrate Advent?
Of course you can celebrate Advent. You may not have noticed, but you sort of celebrate it right now. If you decorated your house, put up a tree and looking forward to Christmas, then yup, you are in a way.
There are no right or wrong ways to celebrate Advent, every person’s faith does things differently, and the Advent wreath is not only for Catholic practices.
5. So is everything over when it’s Christmas Day?
Christmas Day is when the fun begins! It’s a shame that most radio stations stop playing Christmas music the day after Christmas, and that is when people start to take down the decorations.
Christmas season is actually a whole 12 days of celebrating! Christmas Day is when the celebration begins. Advent is the preparation of ourselves for this joyous event, and when Christmas starts, it doesn’t end until Jan 6th.