Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Advent from Philip's Encyclopedia

(Lat. coming) Liturgical season preceding Christmas. It begins on the Sunday nearest November 30 (St Andrew's Day). In many countries, observances during Advent include the lighting of candles. Advent refers both to Christ's birth and his coming in glory as judge at the end of history.


Summary Article: Advent from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In the Christian calendar, which follows the life of Jesus, the period of preparation before his birth on Christmas Day. It begins four Sundays before Christmas on Advent Sunday; the date varies depending on which day of the week Christmas falls.

On the first Advent Sunday, candles are lit in churches. Some churches have an Advent Wreath, a circular wreath of holly with four candles round the edge and a fifth one in the centre. The candles are lit one by one as the weeks pass, until the central candle is lit on Christmas Day. Many families will have Advent calendars with little doors to open each day leading up to Christmas. Christmas scenes are depicted and the last door is opened on Christmas Day.

During Advent, the altar cloth will be changed from the regular green to purple, representing a time of preparation and penitence. Special Advent hymns are sung as Christians celebrate the approach of Jesus' birth. Near Christmas, carol services are held and young children, in many schools, perform nativity plays, recalling the birth of Jesus.

Formerly, Advent was sometimes kept almost as strictly as Lent, public amusements and festivities being prohibited and fasts observed. Since the 6th century it has been the start of the ecclesiastical year, except in the Orthodox Church, where it begins on the first day of September (the Byzantine civil New Year).

© RM, 2016. All rights reserved.

Related Credo Articles

Full text Article
Advent
Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices

The beginning of the Christian Liturgical Year in Western churches, Advent marks the four Sundays before Christmas. The word “advent” comes from...

Full text Article
Advent
Holiday Symbols and Customs

Type of Holiday: Religious (Christian) Date of Observation: Sunday closest to November 30 through December 24 in the West; November 15 through Decem

Full text Article
Advent Resources
The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

http://www.helicon.co.uk/cgi-bin/redirect.pl4?w0009447 Nice clear site about the season of Advent, when Christians prepare to celebrate the birth

See more from Credo