What Is Advent Season? A Closer Look at the Christian Tradition
Updated December 2022
What Is Advent Season?
Advent Season is a very special time of year that sometimes gets lost in the bright lights of the Christmas season it precedes. The first day of Advent is the first day of a new Liturgical (or church) calendar and begins a four week period of preparation for the nativity of Jesus Christ at Christmas.
The Advent Season is all about reflecting on how we can prepare our hearts and homes for Christ’s birth in the world as it is today. It is a time for faith communities and families to remember, through prayer, reflections, special music, and good deeds what the true meaning of Jesus’ birth is. There are many different Christian traditions associated with the four weeks of Advent.
The Advent season invites us to step away from what can be a frenzied time of parties, shopping, amd holiday noise to consider how we commemorate the birth of Jesus, one of the holiest times in Christian faith. It is also a time to reflect on the triumphant return of Jesus at the second coming.
These are all events that Our Little Roses holds near and dear as we move forward in our attempts to spread our helping hands.
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Origins of The Advent Season
The word Advent is from the Latin adventus for “arrival” and is associated with the four weeks of time of preparation for Christmas. Historians have tracked the first Advent celebrations to 5th century northern Italy. In the Italian tradition, churchgoers observed weeks-long spiritual preparation for the feast day of Christmas that involved a period of fasting, prayer, and reflection on the values of the Christian Church.
By the 6th century, the Council of Macon held in 581 adopted the practice in Tours and soon all France observed three days of fasting a week from the feast of Saint Martin until Christmas. Local councils fasted on all days except Saturdays and Sundays from Saint Martin’s Day to the feast of baptism, a period of 56 days, but of 40-day period of fasting, like the fast of Lent. The Sixth century also saw the first celebrations of Advent in Rome.
In the eighth century, it was observed not as a liturgical celebration, but as a time of fast and abstinence, from the 15th of November to the time of Nativity. By the thirteenth century, the fast of Advent was not commonly practiced, but according to French Liturgical writer Durand of Mende, fasting was still generally observed.
Advent calendars were first adapted some time in the 19th century by German Lutherans as a way to mark the days of the hopeful season of preparation for Christmas.
When Is Advent Season Celebrated?
Advent Season starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and leads up to the Nativity of Christ and the second coming of Christ. That means that Advent lasts for around a month in total.
This 2022 year, Advent Season will start on Sunday, November 27th and run all the way to Friday, December 24th.
Our Little Roses loves to use the Advent Season as a time to spread awareness about the organization while keeping true to our everyday mission. It is a time when we give thanks for all of the amazing supporters we have been blessed with and to invite others to join in our ministry. Learn more about what we do and how our cause is making a difference in the lives of the less fortunate this holiday season.
How Do People Celebrate Advent Season?
Since the Advent season is observed by Christians around the world there are many different and creative ways to celebrate! Today we’ll share some of the most common practices associated with the Advent Season including donating to those less fortunate. During this holy time, please consider supporting Our little Roses by clicking below!
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The most significant tradition of the Advent season is the four-candle Advent Wreath. The concept of the Advent wreath originated among German Lutherans in the 16th Century. However, the modern four-candle Advent wreath, with its candles representing the Sundays of Advent, originated in 1839.
The evergreen wreath and candles are full of symbolism tied to the Christmas season. So what does the Advent Wreath symbolize? The wreath itself, which is made of various evergreens, signifies continuous life. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the eternal life we find in Christ.
Even the individual evergreens that make up the wreath have their own meanings that can be adapted to our faith. The laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering. The pine, holly, and yew signify immortality and the cedar signifies strength and healing. The pine cones that decorate the wreath symbolize life and resurrection. The wreath as a whole is meant to remind us of both the immortality of our souls and God’s promise of everlasting life to us through Christ.
The candles also have their own special significance. The four colored candles represent the four weeks of Advent, and one additional candle is lit each Sunday. The flames of candles are a representation of the Christmas light approaching, bringing hope and peace in the struggle against darkness.
- The first candle, which is the color purple, symbolizes hope. It is sometimes called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, especially Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. It represents the expectation felt in anticipation of the coming Messiah.
- The second candle, also purple, represents faith. It is called the “Bethlehem Candle” as a reminder of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
- The third pink candle symbolizes joy. It is called the “Shepherd’s Candle,” and is pink because rose is a liturgical color for joy. The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday and is meant to remind us of the joy that the world experienced at the birth of Jesus, as well as the joy that the faithful have reached the midpoint of Advent.
- On the fourth week of Advent, we light the final purple candle to mark the final week of prayer and penance as we wait for the birth of our Savior. This final candle, the “Angel’s Candle,” symbolizes peace. It reminds us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”
Sometimes a white candle is placed in the middle of the wreath; this is a beautiful modern adaptation. The white candle is lit on Christmas Eve. This candle is called the “Christ Candle” and represents the life of Christ. The color white is for purity because Christ is our sinless, pure Savior.
Using an Advent Wreath is an excellent way to prepare your mind and heart for Christmas.
One way people like to celebrate is by counting down the days to Christmas with an Advent calendar. The excitement builds as each day passes. There are many different calendars, often with surprises like a piece of chocolate or candy behind a tiny door for each day. Or you might like to put a little something special that can be done to help prepare for Christmas, perhaps a good deed for each day!
Here are a few ideas:
- Call a friend you haven’t spoken with
- Visit a neighbor who lives alone
- Bring something special to your local homeless shelter
- Say a prayer for a different person each day
- Have a fundraiser for your favorite charity (we hope that’s Our Little Roses!). We currently have over 65 girls at Our Little Roses so perhaps you could say a special prayer each day for a few of our girls!
- Ask your family for ideas, little ones have huge hearts and great ideas!
Other Notable Ways to Celebrate
- Putting up a Christmas tree
- Lighting a Christingle
- Setting up Christmas decorations
A category big enough to sit by itself is music. Music is another way people celebrate Advent Season, singing and playing songs like Nine Lessons and Carols and Handel’s Messiah Oratorio on musical instruments.
Why Is Advent Season Important to Our Little Roses?
Advent Season ends the year in celebration of Christ. It is a time for solace and remembrance. Advent Season is truly all about faith and this is just another way that Our Little Roses can exercise our organization’s strong and ongoing commitment to the values of faith, love, justice, and respect. Advent Season also gives our charity higher visibility. For a small and growing organization such as Our Little Roses, we always look for new ways to raise awareness of our cause, which of course is and always can be a challenge. The world, now more than ever is ripe with so many competing social issues, we’d call it an understatement to say that it’s tough to stand out from the rest. Yet we know that our unique focus on empowering abused, abandoned, and neglected girls in Honduras through education, faith, and love for over 35 years does stand out.
Advent Season is one of the holiest of times of the year, increasing the chances of more mission trips, volunteers, and support for our girls. If you’re feeling empowered to support a cause this holiday season, learn how you can get involved with Our Little Roses. Happy holidays!