The New Year in the Church begins with the season of Advent — a time to help us prepare for Christmas, when we celebrate the fulfillment of our longing for the Savior with the birth of Jesus.
Advent is the season that lasts about four weeks, beginning four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. The Church’s Christmas season begins on Christmas Eve and lasts for twelve days. So, Advent is a season of anticipation that leads up to Christmas.
During this time, we observe a season of prayer, and reflection — followed by anticipation, hope and joy. Each Sunday during Advent we light a candle on the Advent wreath.
Take time for meditation and reflection each day of Advent by remembering to offer God your gifts of heartfelt gratitude and love.
One of the primary traditions of Advent is the lighting of the Advent wreath. Each candle lit represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ. The circle of branches of the wreath symbolize the eternal cycle of the seasons while the evergreens and lighted candles signify the persistence of life in the midst of winter.
The Advent wreath contains 4 candles. All of the candles are purple except the third (which is rose).The symbolic meanings of the candles can vary but they are often:
1. Hope — expectation of what is to come and sometimes prophecy
2. Love — sometimes called the Bethlehem Candle
3. Joy — this rose candle is often called Mary’s Candle
4. Peace — it can often be called the Angel’s Candle
Colors of Advent
The color of Advent is purple. You’ll see purple used quite often in banners around the church or in the vestments of the clergy.
Purple is used at Advent as it is at Lent to represent the penitential nature of the season. In fact, Advent used to be known as “little Lent.” The color is a symbolic reminder for us to be preparing ourselves for the coming of our Lord.
The third Sunday during Advent is called Gaudete Sunday. The word Gaudete means “rejoice.” On that Sunday your priest may wear rose vestments. This color is meant to remind us that Christmas is drawing near.
What is Advent?
Put simply, Advent is the season that leads up to Christmas. It’s a time we use to pray and reflect in anticipation of the coming of our Lord and the start of the Christmas Season.
Together we await the birth of the Savior. May our faith be refreshed as we keep ourselves open to God’s love during this Holy season of Advent.