Many families have enjoyed the tradition of celebrating Advent for generations. Some light candles every week, say specially written prayers, or even follow along using a fun, candy filled calendar during the four weeks leading up to Christmas.
The word “advent” is Latin for “a coming” or “an arrival’. The concept of Advent is based on God coming to earth and living among us, which is pretty exciting news! It’s definitely something to celebrate and rejoice in! The birth of Jesus became the great rescue plan that is spoken about so much in the What’s in the Bible series. Advent is a time in which we prayerfully prepare ourselves for this greatest of gifts– the birth of our Savior.
During this season, we thank God for Christ’s first coming, prepare for his final coming at the end of time, and celebrate Christ’s presence among us today through the Spirit. It is a time for deep reflection, prayer and looking back into the Old Testament Scriptures that foretold the coming of the Savior– fulfilled in Jesus.
A common Advent tradition is that of the Advent wreath. The wreath is made of evergreen branches with four candleholders and candles. Each candle representing a week, starting on or around the last Sunday in November. Since in Advent we’re waiting for the Christ child, there needs to be a ceremonial way to mark the time and make us aware of the wait. Lighting a candle reminds us of Christ as light of the world. As the candle is lit, it’s customary to sing a verse or two of “O Come O Come Emmanuel”. One candle is lit for each Sunday in Advent: one on the first Sunday, two on the second, and so on.
The liturgical color of candles used for Advent is violet (except for the Third Week of Advent, often called Gaudete Sunday, in which rose may be used), and the season is somewhat penitential, similar to Lent, although not so explicit and emphatic. The use of violet reflects the general themes of Advent: penitence (generally expressed more in terms of expectant hope) and royalty.
But if you don’t have the wreath or the right colors of candles, you need not worry. This is more about the preparation of our inner self for the birth of the Savior. Some people use red and green candles…some use all white… but purple and rose are the more traditional colors. Whatever you use, it remains a time for reflection, and another opportunity where we can come together as a family for song and reading of Scripture.
If you and your family make celebrating Advent as one of your traditions, we’d love to hear about it. How do you celebrate this liturgical season?
Maybe you’re interested in reading more information about celebrating the Advent season in your own home. Here is an online site that will give you daily prayers and ideas to follow.
An Advent Prayer of Hope:
Lord Jesus Christ,
who is, who was, and who is to come,
we pray for the virtue of hope,
that amidst the trials and difficulties
of this world,
we may keep our hearts fixed
upon you, who reigns over the cosmos.
May your grace enliven us,
and defend us,
as we await your coming in glory. Amen
Additional Christmas resources from What’s In The Bible?
- Buck Denver Asks… Why Do We Call It Christmas?
- Who Is Santa Claus?
- 10 Best Christmas Coloring Pages
- Christmas Family Bible Reading Plan
- An Uncommon Christmas: How To Buy A Cow
- An Uncommon Christmas: Finding Joy When Grief Is Heavy
- An Uncommon Christmas: Raising Uncommon Kids
- An Uncommon Christmas: Unwrapping Change
- An Uncommon Christmas: Christmas On The Mission Field
- Creating Family Holiday Traditions
- Christmas Traditions Around The World
- Celebrating The Season Of Advent
- Understanding Hanukkah From A Christian Perspective
Your family can learn more about the history of Christmas, and how Santa Claus, Christmas Trees and many of our modern holiday traditions point back to Jesus in Phil Vischer’s Buck Denver Asks… Why Do We Call It Christmas? Now streaming on JellyTelly!