Advent

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Advent (from the Latin word adventus meaning "coming") is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, called Levavi. The Eastern churches' equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast, but it differs both in length and observances and does not begin the church year, which starts instead on September 1.[1]

The progression of the season may be marked with an Advent calendar, a practice introduced by German Lutherans. At least in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Methodist calendars, Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25, the Sunday from November 27 to December 3 inclusive.

Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used in reference to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent serves a reminder both of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting of Christians for Christ's return.

Contents

Traditions

The theme of readings and teachings during Advent is often to prepare for the Second Coming while commemorating the First Coming of Christ at Christmas. With the view of directing the thoughts of Christians to the first coming of Jesus Christ as savior and to his second coming as judge, special readings are prescribed for each of the four Sundays in Advent.

The usual liturgical colour in Western Christianity for Advent is purple or blue.[2] The purple colour is often used for hangings around the church, on the vestments of the clergy, and often also the tabernacle. On the 3rd Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, rose may be used instead, referencing the rose used on Laetare Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Lent. In some Christian denominations, blue, a colour representing hopefulness, is an alternative liturgical colour for Advent, a custom traced to the usage of the Church of Sweden (Lutheran) and the medieval Sarum Rite in England. In addition, the colour blue is also used in the Mozarabic Rite (Catholic and Anglican), which dates to the eighth century.[2] This colour is often referred to as "Sarum blue". The Lutheran Book of Worship lists blue as the preferred colour for Advent while the Methodist Book of Worship identifies purple or blue as being appropriate for Advent.[2] There has been an increasing trend to supplant purple with blue during Advent as it is an hopeful season of preparation that anticipates both Bethlehem and the consummation of history in the second coming of Jesus Christ.[2][3] Proponents of this new liturgical trend argue that purple is traditionally associated with solemnity and somberness, which is fitting to the repentant character of Lent.[2] During the Nativity Fast, red is used among the denominations of Eastern Christianity, although gold is an alternative colour.[4]

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