Advent

 The Tradition of Advent 

Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas (or sometimes from the 1st December to Christmas Day!). Advent means 'Coming' in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas.

There are three meanings of 'coming' that Christians describe in Advent. The first, and most thought of, happened about 2000 years ago when Jesus came into the world as a baby to live as a man and die for us. The second can happen now as Jesus wants to come into our lives now. And the third will happen in the future when Jesus comes back to the world as King and Judge, not a baby.

 

Advent Sunday can be from the 27th November (which it was in 2016) to the 3rd December (which it will be in 2017)! Advent only start on the 1st December when Christmas Day is on a Wednesday (which will happen in 2019)!

No one is really sure when Advent was first celebrated but it dates back to at least 567 when monks were ordered to fast during December leading up to Christmas.

Some people fast (don't eat anything) during Advent to help them concentrate on preparing to celebrate Jesus's coming. In many Orthodox and Eastern Catholics Churches, Advent lasts for 40 days and starts on November 15th and is also called the Nativity Fast.

Orthodox Christians often don't eat meat and dairy during Advent, and depending on the day, also olive oil, wine and fish. You can see what days mean now eating what foods on this calendar from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

In medieval and pre-medieval times, in parts of England, there was an early form of Nativity scenes called 'Advent images' or a 'vessel cup'. They were a box, often with a glass lid that was covered with a white napkin, that contained two dolls representing Mary and the baby Jesus. The box was decorated with ribbons and flowers (and sometimes apples). They were carried around from door to door. It was thought to be very unlucky if you haven't seen a box before Christmas Eve! People paid the box carriers a halfpenny to see the box.

There are some Christmas Carols that are really Advent Carols! These include 'People Look East', 'Come, thou long expected Jesus', 'Lo! He comes, with clouds descending' and perhaps the most popular advent song 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel!'.

There are several ways that Advent is counted down but the most common is by a calendar or candle(s).

Advent Calendars

 

There are many types of calendars used in different countries. The most common ones in the Great Britain are made of paper or card with 24 or 25 little windows on. A window is opened on every day in December and a Christmas picture is displayed underneath.

In the 19th Century, German protestant Christians counted down to Christmas by marking 24 chalk lines on a door and rubbing one off every day in December.

Paper calendars were first popular in Germany in the early 1900s, although people made their own ones from the 1850s. There's a debate about exactly where and when the first mass produced calendar was printed - but it was certainly in Germany in the early 1900s! During World War II, the production of Advent calendars stopped due to a shortage of cardboard.

When they were first made, scenes from the Christmas Story and other Christmas images were used, such as snowmen and robins, but now many calendars are made in the themes of toys, television programmes and sports clubs. Some of these types of calendar even have chocolate under each window, to make every day in December that little bit better!

Some European countries such as Germany use a wreath of fir with 24 bags or boxes hanging from it. In each box or bag there is a little present for each day.

There are also now all different types of Advent Calendars used to sell and promote different products including chocolate, perfumes, alcohol and beauty products. You can even get advent calendars for your pets with dog or cat treats in them! The worlds largest advent calendar was made in 2007 at the St Pancras Train Station in London, England. It was 71m tall and 23m wide and celebrated the refurbishment of the station. The most expensive advent calendar ever was made in 2010 by a jewellers in Belgium. It was made of 24 glass tubes each containing some diamonds and silver! It was worth about $3.3 million (€2.5 million | £2.1 million)!!!

You can also now get online Advent or 'Christmas Countdown' calendars.

Advent Candles

 

 

 

There are two types of candle(s) that are used to count down to     Christmas Day in Advent. The first looks like a normal candle, but   has the days up to Christmas Day marked down the candle. On   the first of December the candle is lit and burnt down to the first   line on the candle. The same is done every day and then the rest   of the candle is burnt on Christmas day.

 

 

 

ADVENT 1 - First Candle

The Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - the ancestors of Jesus

 

ADVENT 2 - Second Candle

The prophets who foretold the birth of Jesus

 

ADVENT 3 - Third Candle (pink)

John The Baptist

 

ADVENT 4 - Fourth Candle

Mary, Mother of the Lord

 

CHRISTMAS DAY - The Last Candle - The Birth of Christ (white)

This year Advent 1 falls on Sunday 2nd December, why not join us as we light our first candle? Mass starts at 10am