The season of Advent is a time of waiting and expectation. We are preparing, celebrating, and anticipating the coming of Christ into the world.
The word Advent means "coming".
During Advent we wait with joyful expectation to celebrate that the Son of God first came into the world over two thousand years ago in the town of Bethlehem.
For more on how our Mass reflects our anticipation during this season of Advent, watch Father Matera's presentation "ADVENT: A Season of Hope and Expectation"
Looking for ways to celebrate Advent with your family?
Watch this presentation from our own Susan Falkner:
"Celebrating Advent With Kids"
The Advent Wreath
The Advent Wreath is constructed of a circle of evergreen branches with four candles. Traditionally the wreath has three purple candles and one rose colored candle. One candle is lit for each week of Advent. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord's first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead.
The rose candle is lit the third Sunday of Advent, for this color anticipates and symbolizes the Christmas joy announced in the first word of the Entrance Antiphon: "Rejoice". The third Sunday is also known as Guadete Sunday because in Latin, the first words of the opening antiphon for that day's Mass are "Guadete in Domino semper" ("Rejoice in the Lord always"). On this Sunday rose-colored vestments are permitted.
During Advent, family and friends can gather around the Advent Wreath lighting the appropriate candle(s), read from the daily Advent meditation and sing songs.
Click here for ADVENT WREATH PRAYERS
The Color Violet
The color violet is a symbol of this waiting and joyful expectation. It also reminds us of the need for penance. During Advent the the celebration of the sacrament of Reconciliation is an important way to prepare for the coming of Christ.
The Lights of Christmas
The most obvious symbol of Christmas are lights – Christmas candles, window lights, luminaries, lights on the Advent Wreath and Christmas tree. All signifying that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world.
The Christmas candle is an ancient tradition. It is usually placed in the center of the Advent Wreath to complete the removal of darkness and sin by the Coming of Christ.
Lights placed inside window sills depict a beacon to light the way for Mary, Joseph, and the coming of the Christ Child.
Christmas trees can be found almost anywhere, any size. For many people, the Christmas tree is only a seasonal decoration. To Christians it symbolizes the green of hope at a time of dying, the burning light of Christ at a time of spiritual darkness and the fruits of paradise. Its origin as a Christian symbol may trace to an historical event. When St. Boniface evangelized the Germanic tribes he chopped down their sacred oak to prove the impotence of their god. Just as Patrick used the shamrock as a symbol of the Trinity, Boniface used the evergreen as a symbol of the eternity of the true God. The Church provides a blessing ceremony in its Book of Blessings for use in the absence of a priest.
The appearance of holly is representative of the burning bush of Moses and Mary’s burning love of for God. The red berries and prickly points are symbolic of the crown of thorns and the bloody death that the Christ Child would eventually suffer.
Poinsettias are associated with Christmas as the lily is with Easter. In Mexico it blooms at Christmas time and is called the "Flower of the Holy Night." Its name is from the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel Poinsett.
This above information is courtesy the EWTN website.