The celebration of Advent is a Christian holiday that is becoming increasingly popular. Advent wreaths or calendars celebrate the coming (advent) of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Advent can be traced to the fifth century when a six-week fast started on St Martin’s Day on November 11th and continued to Christmas. Originally, Advent was similar to Lent, a period of six weeks of fasting and prayer before Easter. By the sixth century, Advent was celebrated for four weeks without fasting.
Advent wreaths are visual symbols of Advent. Constructed of greenery and decorated with ribbons, the wreaths contain four candles. In the Catholic church, three of the four candles are purple which symbolize penitence, fasting, and royalty. The third week’s candle is pink or rose to celebrate the joy of the coming Christmas holiday. In Protestant churches blue candles. In the home, the first week a single candle is lighted each evening, often at dinner, with a prayer. The second week, a second candle is lit in addition to the first, and so on. By the fourth week, all candles burn.
Advent calendars were popularized by returning military from Germany who brought the tradition back to America. Most designs have some form of numbering that counts down to December 25th. My own calendar is a treasured green tree on red felt that was a family gift. Each of the 25 pockets below contained hand-made felt ornaments that are hung on the tree daily throughout the month. (See pic at left)
Tomorrow, A Christmas Pic from the Past Rita Bay