When it comes to Christmas, there is always a custom to celebrate its origins. For the celebration of Advent, these customs have long been changed to exclude their sole religious influences and now can be found with modern adaptions. Whether it be in wreaths or in your home calendars, there is no doubt that Advent is special during its month-long period.
Did you know that Advent actually stands for “arrival” in Latin? For non-Christians, Advent simply connotes a time of celebrations and fun activities. And are now used as marketing material for retailers to promote new Christmas theme products. If you are as interested in the history of Advent as we are, read on to find out more about the holiday.
Did you know that modern advent calendars don’t actually cover the season of advent?
The first day of Advent actually changes every year, but our calendars always celebrate them on the 1st of December. Though, the final day of Advent stays the same every year, on the 24th of December; which is also Christmas Eve. You might notice that most calendars will cover beyond Christmas Eve though, as we are used to celebrating the whole of Christmas.
For those of you who may be confused by the shifting starting dates, here’s the reason why. The season of Advent is usually celebrated on the fourth Sunday before every Christmas, which changes every year. It is then celebrated every consecutive Sunday leading up to Christmas day. Surprisingly, we found that there will always be four Sundays during Advent before Christmas.
Because this can be confusing for those celebrating, Advent calendars are usually more consistent. They are arranged for a celebratory period of 24 or 25 days and begin on the 1st of December. It is easier to pick a time period that works every year after all. You might even see some of your friends and family reusing the Advent calendars year to year. Also, if you’re interested in getting an Advent calendar, check out this advent calendar giveaway!
Advent calendars have adapted to modern times
Here’s a little history lesson into the origin of Advent Calendars.
They first were adapted in the 19th century by German Lutherans in order to mark the days leading up to Christmas. But by the 20th century, these calendars’ had their purposes changed and were instead designed to market products and aimed at making children happy during the holidays. After all, there is nothing more exciting than discovering what kind of surprise you’re going to get each day during the holidays.
In 1943, the first full-color calendar was made by the Third Reich, and it was then distributed to German mothers. And till today, they have remained a popular item for Christmas celebrations. Not only do they keep the element of surprise, but they also help people to keep track of the days counting to Christmas. It is also a good way to keep your children occupied while you prepare their secret Christmas presents!
It can be pretty difficult now to spend your Christmas days without seeing children putting together charm bracelets, or having a chance to open chocolate Advent calendars. There’s also a special variation of the Advent calendar called the “Jesse Tree”. It combines a traditional Christmas tree with a calendar, allowing you to decorate with all kinds of ornament sets that use symbols to tell you the story of Christmas.
Roots in Christianity
It is of no surprise to know that Advent’s roots in the religion still persist until today. There is no precise date as to when Advent began as a season on the calendar, but it has continued steadily since the Middle Ages.
One easy way to understand how it works is to view it as a sort of immersive theatre, where you get to witness the story of Jesus from Christmas to Easter every year. There are also readings that revisit this significant story and can be part of one’s yearly teachings. In addition, the celebration of Advent is usually also celebrated with songs that are sung during the season such as “O Holy Night” and “Comfort Ye My People”.
Advent has its own set of symbols
The most common items that are used during Advent include the Advent wreath, which is usually seen on the podiums at the front of the church. You may also find some of them in people’s homes. Candleholders can also be seen as common decorations during Advent and are used for tapers in the wreaths themselves. There are usually four candles, and they may come in different colors such as dark purple and blue. There will either be one rose-colored candle out of the four and during Christmas Eve, a white candle will be placed in the middle and lit up.
On each Sunday of Advent, each candle will be lit up. For the rose candle, they are lighted up on the third Sunday to celebrate near the end of Advent. The rose-colored candle is also meant to symbolize happiness. If you are participating in Advent, you may also need to fast, which is practiced 40 days before Easter. Now the fast is less practiced around the globe, but people still keep to the custom of ‘giving something up’ such as a type of food or habit in order to focus on prayer and celebration.
You may also see some churches change out the colors of their clothes with purple. They may even stop singing joyful Christmas songs during this period of time and choose to sing Advent hymns instead. If you ever find yourself having to sing some, “O come, O come, Emmanuel” is a popular hymn.
Whether you are Christian or a non-Christian curious about the origins of Advent, Christmas is a period of time for celebration and joy. At least now when you’re participating in celebrations with your loved ones, every time you see a wreath or open an Advent calendar, you will remember the story of how everything came about and what it means for us now.