What is Advent?
As we end the Thanksgiving holiday and look forward to Christmas, many Christians will begin participating in Advent. You may be from a tradition that does not observe Advent, so you may wonder what it is. So, what is Advent?
Advent is believed to have begun sometime in the fifth century. It has always been considered a time of preparation for Christmas. Some Christians use this time of preparation like a “little Lent,” making it a more penitential season. Other Christians observe Advent by making sacred space in their lives to celebrate the eternal mystery that is Christ coming to the earth as a humble infant. Both ways of participating have Christian salvation in focus and both ways are within historic Christian tradition.
There has been a resurgence in religious interest in Advent in much of the United States. Some have mistaken the season prior to Christmas as the 24 days of Christmas. This may be a fulfilling practice, but it does not historically accord with Advent.
If your church observes Advent, it will begin on December 3 this year, the first of four Sundays in Advent. Your church may even have an Advent wreath with specific colored candles to mark the theme of that week. This can be a beautiful practice that helps us prepare to fully enjoy Christmas each year.
Finally (and this is a brief primer), one of the hidden keys to truly enjoying the Advent season is to fully enjoy the 12 Days of Christmas. Christmas is much longer than one day. Imagine observing Advent for almost a month and then truly enjoying your salvation for nearly two weeks! I encourage you to consider building this practice in with other Christians who want to travel this season with you.
May God bless you in your journey to knowing Him.