Fun Facts about Advent

Now that Thanksgiving is over it is time to get ready for Christmas!! Advent begins a bit later because of how the dates fall this year. In the western world it begins on Sunday this year. In honor of that I thought I would share a bit about Advent, its history and other fun facts!

  1. Advent began as a period of fasting. Although it is not known exactly when Advent began to be celebrated. 5th century monks began fasting three times a week in preparation of Christmas or Epiphany.
  2. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus which means arrival as in the arrival of Jesus Christ. 
  3. In Eastern Orthodox Church Advent usually begins in mid-November and lasts approximately six weeks instead of the four in Western churches.
  4. It is believed in 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the Feast of Epiphany. Christians would spend 40 days in penance prayer and fasting to prepare for the celebration. There was little connection between Advent and Christmas.
  5. By the 6th century the Roman Christians tied Advent to the coming of Christ. The idea was not the coming as in birth of the baby but his second coming.
  6. In the Middle Ages Advent season was linked to the first coming of Christ at Christmas.
  7. In Liturgy the first two Sundays of Advent focus on Christ’s second coming and the last two Sundays of Advent focus on remembering Christ’s first coming.
  8. Advent is a season of fasting and of reflection on the violence and evil in the world that causes us to cry out to God to make things right.
  9. Today Advent is often a time of celebration in the anticipation of the birth of Jesus.
  10. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year.
  11. Christmas music is not played or sung during Advent. Instead they sing Advent-specific hymns like “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”