The Spiritual Meaning of Adven

Advent (from the Latin word adventus, meaning "arrival") is the name of the pre-Christmas period observed by Catholic Christians and some Protestant denominations (such as Lutherans) and is analogous to the period of the Nativity Fast in the East. Advent is a time of waiting that precedes the birth of Christ, during which Christians prepare for the holiday.

In the Roman Rite, the first day of Advent is defined as the fourth Sunday before Christmas (depending on the year, this Sunday falls between November 27th and December 3rd).

The spiritual meaning of Advent is twofold. Firstly, it is a period of preparation for the celebration of Christmas, a "time of joyful waiting." Secondly, during this period, the church encourages believers to reflect on the theme of the coming of Christ's second advent in a special way.

Each of the four Sundays of Advent has a specific theme reflected in the Gospel readings: the first is dedicated to the coming of Christ at the end of time; the second and third Sundays reflect the transition from the Old to the New Testament, including the memory of John the Baptist's ministry; and the fourth is dedicated to the Gospel events immediately preceding Christmas.

Currently, Advent is not considered a mandatory fasting period in the Catholic Church, although many fasting and penitential practices continue to exist, such as abstinence from meat on Christmas Eve in many local churches, the wearing of violet, penitential clothing by the clergy, etc. During Advent, the faithful are recommended to confess and receive Communion, and the church also urges Christians to perform acts of mercy.

One of the best-known traditions associated with Advent is the Advent wreath made of fir branches, with four candles woven into it. One candle is lit on the first Sunday, two on the second, and so on, becoming brighter with each passing week. Such wreaths decorate both churches and the homes of believers. Another well-known tradition is the Christmas calendar for children, divided into squares for each day of Advent, with a treat hidden behind each date. It is also customary to display a "lantern-arch" on the windowsill.

The dates of the beginning of Advent in the current year and the nearest years are:

  • December 3, 2023
  • December 1, 2024
  • November 30, 2025