Ten Interesting Facts about Advent
1. The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival.”
2. The Advent Season always begins four Sundays before Christmas; so it is rarely four full weeks long, but only between three and four weeks, depending on what weekday Dec. 25 happens to be in a certain year.
3. The Third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called “Gaudete Sunday” (from Latin, meaning “Rejoice!), because the “Entrance Antiphon” of this Sunday’s Mass is taken from Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” (Phil 4:4+5b)
4. In the Roman Catholic Church, the official liturgical color for most of the Season of Advent is violet. Only on the Third Sunday of Advent is a rose (pink) colored candle lit, as a symbol of joy; the priest may also wear rose vestments on this Sunday.
5. Advent wreaths have their origins in the folk traditions of northern Europe, where in the deep of winter people lit candles on wheel-shaped bundles of evergreen. Both the evergreen and the circular shape symbolized ongoing life. The candlelight gave comfort at this darkest time of the year, as people looked forward to the longer days of spring.
6. Advent wreaths traditionally include three purple/violet candles and one pink/rose-colored candle, which are arranged evenly around the wreath.
7. Sometimes a fifth candle is placed inside the Advent wreath. This candle is lit on Christmas Day. It is white, the color associated with angels and the birth of Jesus.
8. An advent calendar is a card or poster with twenty-four small doors, one to be opened each day from December 1 until Christmas Eve. Each door conceals a picture. This popular tradition arose in Germany in the late 1800s and soon spread throughout Europe and North America.
9. Advent is not part of the Christmas season itself, but a preparation for it. Thus, Catholics do not sing Christmas hymns, or use Christmas readings, in Mass until December 25th, the first day of the Christmas season.
10. The readings and the liturgies during Advent prepare us for both the birth of Jesus and His Second Coming of Jesus at the end of the world.