Advent begins each year on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas. This year Advent begins on 2nd December, next year it will commence on 1st December, and in 2014 Advent will start on 30th November.
In the Christian calendar, Advent is an extremely holy time. It is the start of the liturgical calendar and a very special time given that Christmas does, of course, see Christians wait and make preparations for the coming of Lord Jesus Christ, the birth of whom is the reason for the celebration of Christmas.
The birth of Jesus is the raison d’etre of Christmas, and even bigger than the arrival of Santa Claus.
Advent was a time for confession and prayer in the earliest days of the church, but today the season is more about preparation and the expectation that arises from the coming of the Lord.
One of the most important symbols of Advent is the Advent Wreath. This usually takes pride of place on the dinner table and is a potent symbol of the holy season. Of German origin, the wreath consists of four advent candles, one of which is pink and three of which are purple, and an evergreen wreath.
On the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas it is tradition to light the first purple Advent candle at dinner and say a short prayer. A second purple candle is lit on the second Sunday, with the pink lit on the third and the final purple candle lit on the last Sunday of Advent.