.

5 Things to Know About Advent, Which Starts Sunday, Dec. 2

Here are five things you probably never knew about the Advent season, which starts Dec. 2 and runs through Christmas.

The Christmas season officially starts in many churches in the Greater West Bloomfield area this weekend with the beginning of Advent.

Here are a few things to know about the season.

1. Advent has a different start date each year

In 2012, Advent starts Sunday, Dec. 2. Despite the fact that most people associate the beginning of the Advent season with Dec. 1, the official dates of the season actually change each year. An anticipatory recognition of the “second coming of Christ,” in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Moravian, Presbyterian and Methodist traditions; Advent is the period of time preceding Christmas, beginning on whatever Sunday is nearest to Nov. 30. Because start dates vary, so does the length of each Advent season. This year, Advent officially begins Dec. 2 and ends Christmas Eve. In Eastern Orthodox churches, however, Advent begins Nov. 15, and lasts 40 days.

2. Spiritual beginnings

The word advent, from Latin adventus, means “the coming,” and is often considered a time of spiritual reflection and anticipation. Advent was not routine until the fourth century when Roman Emperor Constantine commemorated Dec. 25 as Christ’s official birthday. In Christian tradition, Advent is typically a season of prayer, repentance and fasting followed by celebration and joy.

3. Advent has a traditional color

While many of us associate this time of year with the colors red and green, it turns out that purple is the color most associated with Advent. Why purple? Well, it seems that in Christianity, purple symbolizes repentance and fasting. Some churches and families make advent wreaths, which include three purple candles and one pink candle. One new candle is to be lit each week in the order of purple, purple, pink (to symbolize joyous anticipation of Christmas), and then the final purple. Today however, in an effort to distinguish Advent from Lent, many churches have begun to use the color blue.

4. The Advent calendar is a relatively modern invention

The Advent calendar is a device of early 19th-century German Lutherans who used the calendar to countdown to Christmas day. While evidence varies, according to the Landesmuseum of Lower Austria, the first known Advent calendar was made by hand in 1851, while the first printed Advent calendar was produced in Hamburg, Germany in 1902 or 1903. Other sources assert that that a Swabian parishioner, Gerhard Lang, was responsible for the first printed calendar, in 1908.

You can purchase Advent calendars in many shops around the Greater West Bloomfield area this season, including an inexpensive version at Trader Joe's with windows that open up to chocolates.

5. Advent calendar production ceased during WWII

During WWII, the European production of Advent calendars stopped in order to save paper; but after the war, the practice reappeared, only gaining in popularity in both religious and secular circles across Europe and North America. Advent calendars are still popular today.

Where do you buy your advent calendars? What treats await you inside the windows? Tell us in comments!

Trader Joe's is located at 31221 W. 14 Mile Rd., Farmington Hills.

richard john orban November 30, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Very interesting and informative. God bless you.
Mary Duerksen November 30, 2012 at 03:32 PM
The color blue is also associated with hope-a major theme in Advent. In recent decades, each candle is related to a theme during the season-hope, love, joy and peace. Also a recent practice involves the addition of a tall white candle to the middle of the Advent wreath, to be lit on Christmas Eve, signifying that Christ is come.
Timothy Rath (Editor) November 30, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Thanks for the additional perspective!

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »