Saturday, November 27, 2010

First Sunday in Advent

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.

The progression of the season may be marked with an Advent calendar, a practice introduced by German Lutherans. At least in the Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican 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. Christians believe that 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.

In the 5th Century Advent began on St Martin's Day -11th November and entailed a six week fast leading up to the Christmas celebrations. During the 6th Century, Advent was reduced to four weeks with no fasting.

Our ancestors used wreathes with lit candles during the dark December days as a sign of hope, as they looked forward to the winter solstice and the lengthening of the days, and the return of the life-giving sun.

Advent 2010 begins on the First Sunday in Advent, November 28, 2010.

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