Why is Advent Special?

To me, Advent is a time of Love, Joy, Family, Friends, and Jesus.  It is more than just purple candles and flip-open paper calendars.  This Catholic celebration is more than 2000 years old and is filled with tradition and spiritual meaning for all of us to partake in.  But why is it so special?

The Meaning of Advent

Advent WreathLet’s start with the basics, what does Advent mean?  Its literal Latin translation is “coming” or “arrival”.   The more complete meaning is one of great spiritual importance as we prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ in all forms – The birth of Baby Jesus the Messiah, the anticipation of the future second coming of Christ, and the celebration of Christ in our lives through the sacrament of Holy Communion.

For Catholics, Advent is a celebration of the truth of God.  The revelation of God in Christ. The belief that we are all created by God and the faithfulness of His arrival on Earth.  All in an attempt to help us overcome the judgment of sin and experience the joy of eternal life.

We believe and celebrate that Jesus is among us, that he is one of us and isn’t revealing himself until he is really ready.  He will return again and help the poor and the disabled with his powers. To help us love one another as we should “love your neighbour as yourself”, without loving yourself how can you love someone else? Jesus will return and help us realise how to love ourselves and others.

The Advents Wreath Colors and Meaning

The Advent wreath is traditionally made out of evergreen and symbolises the start of something new and great and that there is always hope no matter what the situation.  More contemporary Advent wreaths come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the use and intention are always the same.  The candle combination can be comprised of four or five candles. If there is a fifth candle it is typically white and is lit on the last Sunday of Advent.  There is one pink candle and 3 purple candles.  In some churches they use either royal blue or bright blue.

 

Pink / Rose – The arrival of Christ our King.

Purple – Represents penitence and fasting as well as royalty to welcome the king.

White – Represents Purity

Royal Blue – Symbolises royalty

Bright Blue – Symbolise the night sky

 

• December 2, 2012 – First Sunday of Advent  (purple candle, theme is Hope)
• December 9, 2012 – Second Sunday of Advent  (purple candle, theme is Love)
• December 16, 2012 – Third Sunday of Advent  (purple or pink candle, theme is Joy)
• December 23, 2012 – Fourth Sunday of Advent (purple candle, theme is Peace)

Advent and Christmas abroad – Cologne, Germany

Advent has always been a special time for me as it prepares my family, my soul, my mind, and my home for the Christmas season.  Being raised in a Catholic home in Cologne, Germany, the four weeks of Advent were the perfect celebration and reminder of what the real meaning of Christmas is all about.  As children, we followed our Advent Calendar, made Advent tree decorations, lit Advent Candles and prayed.  The four weeks prior to Christmas are always filled with spiritual excitement and anticipation!

In many countries the Advent and Christmas celebrations are different and the city / country I am most familiar with is Cologne (Köln) in Germany. In Cologne the celebration of Advent begins with opening a huge Christmas Market (Weihnachts Markt) which is an event that is hundreds of years old.  The market is huge and is set against the backdrop of the famous and beautiful Cologne Cathedral.  The market stalls are filled with a wonderful variety of goods from local artisans and businesses and includes the sale of food, clothes, sweets, movies and much, much more. The market is more than just a place to buy things it is a place to FEEL things.  It is a great way of communicating with other people and making new friends. The spirit of giving and love and Christ is in the air!

In Germany the Catholic Church has a tradition whereby teenagers volunteer at the church during services and the biggest church celebration is during Advent.  I was an altar server for several years while living in Cologne and love my memories of working in the church, especially during Advent where you want everything with the church celebrations to be PERFECT!  It isn’t always an easy task but doing it is fun!  That is me in the picture above, I’m the last girl in line holding a large votive candle during an Advent service.

Enjoy the celebration of Advent.  I know I will!  God bless!

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Author: Charis Lowe

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