Five Facts You Didn’t Know About Advent

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Five Facts You Didn’t Know About Advent

Katarina Rivera, Reporter

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Five Facts You Didn’t Know about Advent

The four candles glow in the dim light of the church.  The three purple and one pink candles sit on an emerald green wreath.  The Christmas tree is already up, covered in ornaments with some presents sitting beneath.  

These decorations are a sign of the season on the Christian calendar, Advent, which leads up to Christmas.  Here are five facts few people know about it.

  1. The word has Latin origins. According to catholicnewsherald.com, the word “Advent” comes from the Latin word “adventus,” which means “coming.”  This references the fact that the four weeks of preparation are for the coming of Jesus Christ. 
  2. Advent’s start day changes. Similar to the way Thanksgiving doesn’t happen on the exact same day each year, neither does Advent start on the same day annually.  Advent starts four Sundays in advance of Christmas.  It can even start in late November.  This year, the first Sunday of Advent is December 3rd. 
  3. Advent originated in France. Technically, it was the Church of France who started the tradition of Advent.  In the 4th century, they used the period before Epiphany to prepare for baptism.  Back then, it was called “St. Martin’s Lent.”  This was because their 40 days of preparation started on the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours, which is November 11th. 
  4. Rome is responsible for the Advent we know today. Under Pope Gregory I, most of the prayers and other features of Advent were created in Rome, during the late 6th century or the early 7th century.  Many of the things we take for granted during Advent can be traced back to the Roman Advent season. 
  5. The candles and the wreath all symbolize something. Some people may know what the four candles–three of which are purple and one of which is pink–represent.  Each candle represents a week of Advent, and each Sunday, one of them is lit.  According to catholiceducation.org, the purple represents the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and good works performed during this time.  The pink candle is lit on the third Sunday, known as Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of rejoicing. 
  6. The evergreens that the wreath is made of have traditional meanings that can be applied to the faith.  For instance, pine, holly, and yew all symbolize immortality.  The holly’s prickly leaves are also used to remind people of the crown of thorns, and the circle that the wreath is arranged in symbolizes eternity, as a circle is without beginning and end.

As the preparations begin for Christmas, it’s important to not forget the meaning behind those decorations, and why they’re there at all.  In the end, what they symbolize matter more than the symbols themselves.