Advent (from the Latin word _la. "adventus", meaning "coming") is a season of the Christian church, the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus, in other words, the period immediately before Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western Christian year and commences on Advent Sunday. The Eastern Churches begin the liturgical year on 1 September. [Citation
last =Kallistos (Ware)
first =Bishop
author-link =Timothy Ware
contribution =The Five Cycles
year =1969
title =The Festal Menaion
editor-last =
editor-first =
volume =
page =40
publisher =Faber and Faber
id =
url =
accessdate =
] The Eastern equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast, and differs both in length and observance (see that article for specifics).

The progression of Advent may be marked with an Advent calendar reckoning Advent to start on 1 December, a practice introduced by German Lutherans. At least in the Roman Catholic calendar, Advent starts on the 4th Sunday before December 25; in other words, the Sunday between November 27 and December 3 inclusive.

Latin _la. "adventus" is the translation of the Greek word "parousia", commonly used in reference to the Second Coming. Christians believe that the season of Advent serves a dual reminder of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting that Christians today endure as they await the second coming of Christ.


The theme of readings and teachings during Advent is often to prepare for the Second Coming while commemorating the First Coming of Christ at Christmas. With the view of directing the thoughts of Christians to the first coming of Jesus Christ as Saviour, and to his second coming as Judge, special lessons are prescribed for each of the four Sundays in Advent.

A darker purple (sometimes called "Royal Purple") is used whereas in Lent the color is often a reddish purple ("Roman Purple"). This shade is used for the hangings around the church, on the vestments of the clergy, and usually the Tabernacle. On the 3rd Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, rose pink is used, since this Sunday takes on a more joyous tone. In some Anglican and Lutheran churches, blue is the liturgical colour for Advent, a custom traced to the medieval Sarum Rite. This color is often referred to "Sarum blue." In the Eastern churches, red is used.

The "Late Advent Weekdays" or December 17-24, mark the singing of the Great Advent 'O Antiphons'. These are the antiphons for the Magnificat at Vespers, or Evening Prayer (in the Roman Catholic Church) and Evensong (in the Anglican Church) each day, and mark the forthcoming birth of the Messiah. They form the basis for each verse of the popular Advent hymn, "O come, O come, Emmanuel."

From the 4th century, the season was kept as a period of fasting as strict as that of Lent (commencing in some localities on 11 November; this being the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, the fast became known as "St. Martin's Fast," "St. Martin's Lent" or "the forty days of St. Martin"). The feast day was in many countries a time of frolic and heavy eating, since the 40-day fast began the next day. In the Anglican and Lutheran churches this fasting rule was later relaxed, with the Roman Catholic Church doing likewise later, but still keeping Advent as a season of penitence. In addition to fasting, dancing and similar festivities were forbidden.

In many countries, Advent was long marked by diverse popular observances, some of which still survive. In England, especially in the northern counties, there was a custom (now extinct) for poor women to carry around the "Advent images", two dolls dressed to represent Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary. A halfpenny was expected from every one to whom these were exhibited, and bad luck was thought to menace the household not visited by the doll-bearers before Christmas Eve at the latest.

In Normandy, farmers employed children under twelve to run through the fields and orchards armed with torches, setting fire to bundles of straw, and thus it is believed driving out such vermin as are likely to damage the crops. In Italy, among other Advent celebrations, is the entry into Rome in the last days of Advent of the Calabrian "pifferari", or bagpipe players, who play before the shrines of Mary, the mother of Jesus, the Italian tradition being that the shepherds played these pipes when they came to the manger at Bethlehem to pay homage to the infant Jesus.

End of the liturgical year

In the Anglican Church, the Sunday before Advent is called Stir-up Sunday. In the Roman Catholic Church, the final Sunday of the liturgical year before Advent has been set as the Feast of Christ the King since 1969.


ee also

*Fasting and abstinence in the Roman Catholic Church
*Mortification of the flesh in Christianity
*Rogation Days
*Great Lent
*Apostles' Fast
*Dormition Fast

External links

* [ The Christian Season of Advent] at the Christian Resource Institute
* [ Catholic Encyclopedia: Advent]
* [ American Catholic: Advent to Epiphany] Prayers, calendar and activities
* [ Liturgical Resources for Advent]
* [ Advent FAQ at the Missouri Synod Lutheran web site]
* [ Advent wreath FAQ] at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America web site
* [ Advent Resources] at The Bible Resource Center, an online ministry of the American Bible Society
* [ History of Advent]

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  • Advent — »Zeit der Ankunft Christi«: Mhd. advent‹e› ist aus lat. adventus »Ankunft« entlehnt, das zu ad venire »ankommen« gehört. Das einfache Verb venire ist mit dt. ↑ kommen urverwandt. Über die Vorsilbe vgl. ↑ ad..., ↑ Ad... – Eine ganze Reihe von… …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch

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