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What is Advent? The Christian season, explained

By Meghan Pryce

Published November 30, 2018

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Advent is a season marking the preparation for and celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

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It begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve.

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No, that doesn’t mean Advent is all about Santa and getting gifts.

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Advent originates from adventus, a Latin word meaning “a coming, approach, arrival,” according to Dictionary.com.

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The holiday marks the birth of Jesus, but it’s also a time for the faithful to anticipate the Second Coming, the return of Christ on Earth.

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So how do the faithful celebrate?

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Typically, followers light a candle on the Advent wreath and read passages and scriptures on the Sundays leading up to Christmas.

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What's an Advent wreath? Does it hang on a door?

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Not exactly. The wreath signifies the eternity of God, according to The United Methodist Church’s website. Some churches use four purple candles. Others use three purple candles and a rose or pink candle to symbolize joy.

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And what about those Advent calendars?

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The calendars are used to count down the days until the celebration of the birth of Jesus. But they’re no ordinary calendars. In some, each day has a special gift or piece of chocolate inside.

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Like Lent, Advent is a time for prayer and fasting for some of the faithful.

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However, Advent differs from Lent because Lent focuses on repentance and forgiveness while Advent is about expectation and hope.

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