Advent, derived from the Latin word “adventus” meaning “coming” or “visit,” is a season imbued with anticipation and reflection, marking the commencement of the Christian liturgical year. Spanning four Sundays leading up to Christmas and culminating on Christmas Eve, Advent is a time of spiritual preparation, where Christians across the world ready their hearts for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
This season is a journey through time—honoring the deep yearning of Jews for a Messiah and our own profound need for forgiveness, salvation, and a fresh start. Advent is a duality of celebration: it commemorates the historical birth of Jesus in a modest Bethlehem stable while simultaneously looking forward to the second coming of Christ, fulfilling the promises of the first.
Contrary to popular belief, the Christmas celebration extends beyond a single day. In Christian tradition, the festive season stretches from the sundown of December 24 (Christmas Eve) through to the Epiphany on January 6, often referred to as “the 12 days of Christmas.”
The Advent Wreath, an emblem of this sacred period, traditionally adorns the dinner table as a vivid reminder of the holy season. With origins tracing back to Germany, the wreath is a circle of evergreen, symbolizing eternal life and unending growth, and is adorned with four candles—three purple and one pink. Each candle, lit progressively each Sunday of Advent, illuminates a path through the themes of hope, love, joy, and peace, mirroring the increasing light of Christ’s presence in the world.
Purple, the traditional color of Advent symbolizing penitence and royalty, is often used, though some churches have adopted blue, the color of hope. Today, as Christmas symbols and decorations blend into Advent observance, hues of red, green, and gold are increasingly seen.
Advent is not merely a countdown to Christmas; it’s an invitation to delve deeper into the spiritual essence of this time of year. It’s a call to embrace the words of Martin Luther King: “To be a Christian without prayer, is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Each candle of the Advent Wreath, from the first symbolizing hope to the last radiating peace, invites us to reflect, pray, and prepare our hearts for the profound mystery and joy of the birth of Christ.<