Hi everyone! As we gear up for the holidays, today marks the first day of 2018 advent and I for one am more than ready to indulge in some self-reflection as befits the season, so expect to see some ruminating posts as the days progress. It’s a thoughtful time calling for introspection as well as reaching out to others; this is my way of reaching out to you all and participating in the leadup to the festivities, and I’m glad you’re joining me in this journey.
What is advent? For the uninitiated, advent is a Latin for ‘coming’. It is a time of anticipation and preparation for the celebrations of the birth of Jesus Christ as per the Christian religion. Advent typically begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, officially triggering the countdown to Christmas Day. It also signals that it’s now finally acceptable to adorn our homes with Christmas themed decorations, play Christmas tunes and sing Christmas carols out loud without having our sanity questioned.
Each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas has a different focus. On the first Sunday, which happens to be today, we look forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The second and third Sunday, December 9th and December 16th, will focus on John the Baptist coming to prepare the way for the Lord. The fourth and final Sunday, December 23rd, Mary and Joseph become the focus as regards the events leading up to the birth of Christ.
During advent, people participate in religious traditions, ceremonies and customs associated with the season such as re-enactments of scenes from the nativity, advent rituals, fasting and praying, etcetera. You can choose to open a daily advent calendar for each of the 25 days. This is usually a box presentation of upto 25 tiny windows containing a surprise inside. Each window usually has a Christmas themed picture on it and each box is opened on its corresponding day in December. The surprise inside could be a small toy, chocolate, a bible verse, or even a daily advent-themed devotional.
Alternatively, you can choose to burn the advent candle. This is a set of four candles with an optional fifth one added on Christmas itself representing Christ. The first Sunday, we light up the candle of hope to shine a light in dark places as a symbol of the hope we have in Jesus. The second Sunday, we burn the candle of peace to celebrate the peace we find in Christ. The third Sunday we burn the candle of love to celebrate the love of Christ. The fourth Sunday we light a candle of joy rejoicing on the birth of the Lord.
The optional fifth candle lit on Christmas day represents purity in the birth of Jesus. Each of the four candles represents 1,000 years, adding up to 4,000 years, the amount of time humanity waited for the arrival of the saviour, keeping in mind that the meaning and colours of the candles may change from different factions within the same religion.
Accompanying the advent candles is the advent wreath, which is usually blessed in an special ceremony at the beginning of advent to encourage a spiritual sense of participation. The circular shape of the wreath holding the candles in place points to the one without beginning or end, symbolizing God’s eternity and his unending love for his children.
Advent ends on the eve of Christmas on December 24th and I hope you stay with me on the journey until then. Mr. Grey and I wish you all a happy advent calendar. Cheers, Grey ღ