Advent is a time of year when we become excited as we get ready for Christmas. It is a grace-filled season of new hope, new life and new love.
Advent is taken from the Latin word ‘adventus’ which means ‘arrival’ or ‘coming’. It is the four week period that leads up to Christmas Day on 25th December. The four weeks symbolise the time in the Old Testament that people waited for the coming of Christ. Our Church Year starts at the First Sunday of Advent. During these four weeks we prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ on Christmas Day.
Spirit of Advent
The spirit of Advent is expressed well in the parable of the bridesmaids, who are anxiously awaiting the coming of the bride groom (Matthew 25:1-13). There is joy at the bridegroom’s expected coming and
yet there is a need for preparation. Just as we prepare our homes, by carrying out a good spring clean, we need to prepare our hearts. We need to take time to look at how we are living our lives, and to use the Sacrament of Penance, to help us ‘clean up our act’. We should also take the time to think about those who are less well off than we are and do what we can to help them.
For example, we can make up a hamper, or give a gift to St Vincent de Paul Society at their Christmas Giving Tree, or visit someone who is lonely.
One of the most common Advent traditions is that of the Advent calendar. The Advent calendar came from a German tradition, where families made a chalk line for every day in December until Christmas Eve. Before long, commercial
entrepreneurs started replacing the chalk lines with printed calendars. The first known Advent calendar is for the Advent of 1851.
Today the Advent calendar is a good way of keeping children interested in the entire season. An Advent calendar can be easily made using two pieces of card stuck together. The bottom piece of card should have small pictures and the top sheet will need to have cut out windows to place directly above the pictures. The pictures can be of angels, candles or other religious symbols. The last window is usually of the Baby Jesus in the manger. During Advent a window is opened each day as we prepare for Christmas; this custom can help children prepare for the countdown to Christmas Day.
Thank you to the senior pupils of St Gemma’s H.S. for their contributions on Advent.