Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
Jan Harris
Deputy Group Editor
1:00 AM 2nd December 2023

What Is Advent?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Advent is the period of four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Advent comes from the Latin word 'adventus' which means 'arrival'.

This year in 2023 the first Sunday in Advent is on Sunday 3 December and ends on Sunday 24 December.

The definition of Advent is the arrival of a notable person or thing, the first season of the Church year leading up to Christmas. It is the season observed in Christian churches for the waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus, the real meaning of Christmas.

Advent only starts on the 1 December when Christmas Day is on a Wednesday (which happened in 2019)! This will happen next in 2024 when Advent will start on Sunday 1 December.

History of Advent
In the 5th Century Advent began on 11 November and was a six week fast leading up to Christmas. In the 6th Century Advent was reduced to four weeks and fasting was dropped.

Advent wreath by Becky
Advent wreath by Becky
The Advent Wreath
In churches up and down the country the Advent Wreath is a symbol of Advent.

Advent wreaths are circular and represent God's infinite never ending love. They are ususally made out of evergreen foilage to signify everlasting life.

In Christian Churches there is the lighting of the Advent wreath. During the season of Advent one candle is lit on each Sunday until Christmas. These normally comprise of three purple and one pink candle.

The option of the centre white candle is a more modern tradition which is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

The first candle or the 'Prophecy candle' symbolises hope and remembers the prophets who foretold the birth of the Messiah.

The second purple candle or the 'Bethlehem candle' represents faith and symbolises the birth of the coming king in Bethlehem the birthplace of King David.

On the third Sunday in Advent the pink candle is lit or the 'Shepherd's candle' which represents joy.

The last purple candle is lit on the fourth Sunday and is often called the 'Angel's candle' which represents peace.

On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day the white centre candle is lit. This is often called the 'Christ candle' and represents Jesus being the light of the world. It is a white candle to represent light and purity.

The Christingle
Christingle service by Al Elmes on Unsplash
Christingle service by Al Elmes on Unsplash
Christingle services are usually held anywhere during Advent up to Christmas Eve. They are a time of joy bringing families and communities together to share the light of Jesus and spread a message of hope.

The idea of the Christingle originated in Germany and possibly the English version of 'Christkindl' which means little Christ child, who was the present bringer in some parts of Germany and Europe and represents the baby Jesus.

A Christingle is an orange with a candle in the centre, red ribbon round it and four sticks pierced into it holding fruit and sweets.

Christingles by Rachel Ford
Christingles by Rachel Ford
There are five different parts to the Christingle:

The orange represents the world which is round.

The red ribbon goes round the world and represents the blood of Jesus when he died on the cross.

The four sticks point North, South, East and West but also represent the four seasons.

The fruit and nuts and sometimes sweets, represent the fruits of the earth which grow because of the sun and the rain.

The candle in the middle stands tall and gives light representing the love of God.

photo by Stardust Kay
photo by Stardust Kay
Advent Calendars
Advent calendars count the days until Christmas.

The tradition of the Advent calendar dates back to the 19th century when German protestants used to make chalk marks on doors or lit candles in order to count the days until Christmas.

In the early 1900s paper calendars were popular in Germany, although people made their own ones as early as 1850.

During World War II there was a shortage of cardboard and so the production of Advent calendars stopped.

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash
Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash
The first Advent calendars showed scenes from the Christmas Story and other Christmas images like robins and snowmen.

Now the calendars have all sorts of popular themes and television programmes.

The most popular Advent calendars seem to be the ones that have a chocolate behind each window, I wonder why! The first calendar with chocolate in it was made in 1958, although they only became really popular in the 1980s.

Image by Kevin Sanderson from Pixabay
Image by Kevin Sanderson from Pixabay