On Nov. 27, we proclaim our Advent journey to the house of the Lord. The season of Advent marks the beginning of the new liturgical year and concludes with the Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. Below are resources to help you celebrate the season and prepare your heart for the full joy of Christmas.
Five things to Know about Advent
1. Advent (from, “ad-venire” in Latin or “to come to”) is the season encompassing the four Sundays (and weekdays) leading up to the celebration of Christmas.
2. The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas.
3. Advent wreaths are constructed of a circle of evergreen branches into which four candles are inserted, representing the four weeks of Advent. Evergreen represents eternal life that comes to us through Jesus.
4. The colors of Advent are purple, representing royalty, and the need to prepare our hearts for Christ and pink, which represents joy.
5. The tradition of the Advent calendar started in Germany in the 1800s as a fun and meaningful way to count down the days until Christmas.
The Advent Wreath Tradition
The use of the Advent Wreath is a traditional practice which has found its place in the Church as well as in the home. The blessing of an Advent Wreath takes place on the First Sunday of Advent or on the evening before the First Sunday of Advent. When the blessing of the Advent Wreath is celebrated in the home, it is appropriate that it be blessed by a parent or another member of the family.
Four candles on a wreath represent the four weeks of Advent. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles of the Advent wreath symbolize our prayer, penance, preparatory sacrifices and good works we offer. The rose candle, lit on the third Sunday (Gaudete Sunday) yields our great rejoicing, because we have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when our preparation is now half over and we are close to Christmas. The progressive lighting of the candles each week reminds us of the meaning of the season; that it is a season of faithfulness.
The Advent Calendar Tradition
The Advent calendar can help you fully enter in to the season with daily activity and prayer suggestions to prepare you spiritually for the birth of Jesus Christ. The USCCB provides an online version and a pdf download (English/Spanish).
from the USCCB
- Blessing of a Christmas Tree
- Commentary on the Proper Prayers of Advent from the Roman Missal
- Blessing of a Christmas Manger or Nativity Scene
- Lectio Divina for Advent
- Liturgical Notes for Advent
- The “O Antiphons” of Advent
©2016 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops