The Season of Advent
The Season of Advent is the Christian period leading up to Christmas Eve and is a time of expectation and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity – the birth of Jesus Christ – recognised on 25 December and known as Christmas Day.
In the Western Church, Advent begins on the Sunday nearest Saint Andrew’s Day (30 November) and includes the four Sundays up to 24 December. The Eastern Church recognises slightly different dates for this liturgical period. Interestingly, the Season of Christmas is not what some say is the period of time leading up to Christmas Day, but is the period of time from midnight on Christmas Eve to the Epiphany on 6 January.
Advent is the beginning of the church year and, historically, was first instigated to prepare Christians for the Epiphany celebration. In Medieval times, the Season of Advent began to point more towards Christmas.
Different persuasions of Christianity recognise this period in different ways. For many it is a time of religious fasting, perhaps of just red meat. Churches display hangings in the liturgical colours of blue or purple, and the clergy often likewise dress in one or both of these colours.
The Season of Advent is also a commercial time because, as Jesus Christ was seen as God’s gift to mankind, people around the world also use this as a time to give gifts to one another, particularly to children. In most Western nations, even people with no Christian faith celebrate this time of the year and, during the Season of Advent, they prepare for Christmas Day with the giving and receiving of gifts, partying, acts of charity and the preparation of food for the Christmas Day feast.
The visible signs of this season are Christmas trees, decorations, persons in the guise of Santa Claus and meals including many traditional foods like nuts, glazed fruit, roasted turkey and Christmas pudding.
To find out more about the Season of Advent, visit here.