In the month of December, Christians all over the world prepare themselves spiritually for the birth of Jesus Christ. This special period of anticipation and hope is known as Advent. People spend this season in prayer, fasting and repentance.
The word ‘advent’ is derived from the Latin word ‘adventus’, which indicates ‘arrival of someone very special’.
Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before 25th December. This year it started on 2nd December 2012 and will continue till 24th December 2012. It marks the beginning of the church year.
Advent is about recollecting the aspirations of ancient people and recognizing how the promises of the Old Testament were fulfilled by God by sending his only son to this world. During this season Christians thank God for Christ’s birth in Bethlehem. They also thank him for Christ’s continued presence in the Holy Sacrament. Above all, they look forward to his second arrival at the end of time.
Christians started observing Advent, after the 4th century, as a preparation for Epiphany, a feast celebrating the revelation of the divine nature of Jesus. At that time new Christians were received into the faith and hence, the church introduced a period of fasting and repentance.
Later, in the 6th century, the season of Advent was linked to the second coming of Christ. Subsequently, Christmas was also integrated into this season.
However, December month is exclusively reserved for the preparation of Christmas parties and colourful celebrations. No wonder, people easily forget the true spirit of Advent, and concentrate totally on approaching Christmas and all festivities associated with it.