The Season of Advent
Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian Churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming". The season of advent looks forward to the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.Advent is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, the Sunday nearest to St. Andrew's Day (30 November), in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, and in the Anglican, Lutheran, Moravian, Presbyterian and Methodist calendars. Some of the practices that are associated with this holiday include keeping and Advent Calendar, lighting an Advent Wreath, praying and Advent devotional as well as other ways of preparing for Christmas such as Setting up Christmas decorations. The history and origin of this Holiday remains uncertain so it is impossible to claim with confidence with a credible explanation of the origin of Advent.
Reason for the Season - Advent
The theme of readings and teachings during Advent is often the preparation for the Second Coming, while also commemorating the First Coming of Christ at Christmas.The first clear references in the Western Church to Advent occur in the Gelasian Sacramentary, which provides Advent Collects, Epistles, and Gospels for the five Sundays preceding Christmas and for the corresponding Wednesdays and Fridays.While the Sunday readings relate to the first coming of Jesus Christ as savior as well as to his second coming as judge, traditions vary in the relative importance of penitence and expectation during the weeks in Advent.
The Liturgical Colors
The usual liturgical color in Western Christianity for Advent is either violet (or purple) or blue.The violet or purple color is often used for hangings around the church, the vestments of the clergy, and often also the tabernacle. In some Christian denominations, blue, a color representing hope, is an alternative liturgical color for Advent, a custom traced to the usage of the Church of Sweden (Lutheran) and the medieval Sarum Rite in England. In addition, the color blue is also used in the Mozarabic Rite (Catholic and Anglican), which dates from the 8th century. This color is often referred to as "Sarum blue".
Many churches also hold special musical events, such as Nine Lessons and Carols and singing of Handel's Messiah oratorio, Also, the Advent Prose, an antiphonal plainsong, may be sung. The "Late Advent Weekdays",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 and Lutheran churches) and Evensong in Anglican churches 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'.
In 2014 the four Advent Sundays were November 30, December 7, December 14, and December 21. In 2015 the four Advent Sundays are November 29, December 6, December 13, and December 20. In 2016 the four Advent Sundays will be November 27, December 4, December 11, and December 18.