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“Beloved, now is the acceptable time spoken of by the Spirit, the day of salvation, peace and reconciliation: the great season of Advent. This is the time eagerly awaited by the patriarchs and prophets, the time that holy Simeon rejoiced to see. This is the season that the church has always celebrated with special solemnity. We too should always observe it with faith and love, offering praise and thanksgiving to the Father for the mercy and love he has shown us in this mystery.”
- St. Charles Borromeo
ASL Translation of On Mission: Advent
SonRise Morning Interviews
Advent: the "Little Lent"
Christmas is the "most wonderful time of the year”: trees are trimmed, presents wrapped, and the chilly air signals the coming season of festive warmth. But did you know we're not really ready for Christmas without first observing a "little Lent?" This webinar looks at ways to “deck the halls” of our hearts - and prepare our bodies and our homes - for the birth of Christ by preparing for Him in the season of Advent.
By Ann Koshute, professor at St. Joseph's College of Maine
Advent Traditions and Meanings
Advent Reflections from Salt + Light TV
A Brief History of Advent
The season of Advent developed in the Church over time. Here are 10 facts that you may not know about the roots and meanings of Advent.
1. ADVENT IS A TIME OF EXPECTATION AND PREPARATION FOR THE BIRTH OF THE LORD.
2. ADVENT HAS A CHANGING START DATE.
3. ADVENT MARKS THE BEGINNING OF THE LITURGICAL YEAR.
4. THE ADVENT SEASON HAS TWO MEANINGS.
5. HOPE IS A PREDOMINANT THEME OF ADVENT.
6. ADVENT IS A REMINDER OF THE OLD TESTAMENT PROMISES OF THE COMING OF THE MESSIAH.
7. ADVENT FOCUSES ON LIGHT AS OPPOSED TO DARKNESS.
8. ADVENT HAS TWO PARTS.
9. THE ORIGINS OF ADVENT CAN BE TRACED BACK TO THE CHURCH IN FRANCE.
10. ADVENT AS WE KNOW TODAY WAS DEVELOPED IN ROME.
Symbols and Customs of Advent
Many people know the popular symbols and customs of Advent, such as the Advent wreath, but do you know their meanings and why we have them? Below is a list of some well known Advent symbols and the meanings behind them.
1. The Advent wreath is one of the best known symbols of Advent.
- Traditionally made of evergreen branches formed into a circle with 4 candles held within.
- The evergreen circle is a symbol of eternal life.
- Green from the evergreen is considered a symbol of hope.
- Started as a domestic tradition that entered into churches in the twentieth century.
2. Advent Candles are usually comprised of three purple candles with one rose or pink.
- The candles recall the weeks that pass until Christmas.
- Purple candles symbolize waiting, also penitential but not in the same way as Lent.
- Rose or Pink is used on the third Sunday of Advent to symbolize rejoicing, since the Third Sunday of Advent is referred to as Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday.
- They are lit, light used as a symbol of Christ being the light of the World coming through the darkness.
- Sometimes a white candle is placed in the middle, people use when lit as the representation of Christ entering the world.
3. The Jesse Tree is named for Jesse the father of King David whose line can be traced to St. Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.
- Used as a symbol to explain the Old Testament generational connection between Adam, Abraham and Jesus as explained in Gospels Matthew and Luke.
- Popular symbols represent people of the Old Testament including King David as a crown and Noah as a boat.
4. An Advent house or Advent calendar show the passing of the days of the season.
- Popular with children, they serve as a way to provide activities and reflections on the season to draw them deeper into the faith. December 24th is usually a scene of the Nativity.
- Used as a visual tool of preparation and patiently waiting for Christ to come into our lives.
5. The Giving Tree is a variation of the Jesse Tree that became popular in the late 20th century.
- The custom has communities decorate a tree with tags indicating gifts for children in need at Christmas.
- Intended to remind Christians of the teaching of Jesus “what you do to the least of these, you do to me” (Mt. 25:40)
6. Nativity scene or Creche is used to commemorate the humble birth of Christ.
- Created by St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th Century to emphasize the humility of the Savior of the World coming as a poor child.
- There are many different designs and themes used, including stone or wax figurines, as well as human and animal actors.
- In some locations a variation is included that has the manger empty until Christmas Eve as a celebration of Christ’s arrival as a child.
- Culturally, certain countries will change the look of the Creche, including more towers, houses, mountains, than what was traditionally used during the 13th Century.
Do you want to hear more about these topics?
Our team sat down to talk about them! Listen below.