Cumbria Times
A Voice of the North
Jan Harris
Assistant Editor
9:21 PM 28th November 2020

Why Celebrate Advent?

What is Advent?

Can you believe that tomorrow Sunday 29 November is the first Sunday in Advent and next week it will be December when we can all open the first door of our
Advent Calendars!

photo by Crazy House Capers
photo by Crazy House Capers
The definition of Advent is the arrival of a notable person or thing, the first season of the Church year leading up to Christmas. It is the season observed in Christian churches for the waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus, the real meaning of Christmas.

Advent only starts on the 1st December when Christmas Day is on a Wednesday (which happened in 2019)! Advent means 'coming' in Latin.

This year in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic we all seem to be looking forward to Christmas more than ever, as a time of celebration with family and friends, even though it is going to be a different Christmas to normal years for everybody.

Advent Calendars

photo by Doug Belshaw
photo by Doug Belshaw
Advent calendars count the days until Christmas.

The tradition of the Advent calendar dates back to the 19th century when German protestants used to make chalk marks on doors or lit candles in order to count the days until Christmas.

In the early 1900s paper calendars were popular in Germany, although people made their own ones as early as 1850.

During World War II there was a shortage of cardboard and so the production of Advent calendars stopped.

The first Advent calendars showed scenes from the Christmas Story and other Christmas images like robins and snowmen.

Now the calendars have all sorts of popular themes and television programmes.

The most popular Advent calendars seem to be the ones that have a chocolate behind each window, I wonder why! The first calendar with chocolate in it was made in 1958, although they only became really popular in the 1980s.

The Advent Wreath

Advent wreath by Becky
Advent wreath by Becky
Advent wreaths are circular and represent God's infinite never ending love. They are ususally made out of evergreen foilage to signify everlasting life.

In Christian Churches there is the lighting of the Advent wreath. During the season of Advent one candle is lit on each Sunday until Christmas. These normally comprise of three purple and one pink candle.

The option of the centre white candle is a more modern tradition which is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

The first candle or the 'Prophecy candle' symbolises hope and remembers the prophets who foretold the birth of the Messiah.

The second purple candle or the 'Bethlehem candle' represents faith and symbolises the birth of the coming king in Bethlehem the birthplace of King David.

On the third Sunday in Advent the pink candle is lit or the 'Shepherd's candle' which represents joy.

The last purple candle is lit on the fourth Sunday and is often called the 'Angel's candle' which represents peace.

On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day the white centre candle is lit. This is often called the 'Christ candle' and represents Jesus being the light of the world. It is a white candle to represent light and purity.

The Christingle

Christingles by Rachel Ford
Christingles by Rachel Ford
Christingle services are usually held anywhere during Advent up to Christmas Eve.

The idea of the Christingle originated in Germany and possibly the English version of 'Christkindl' which means little Christ child, who was the present bringer in some parts of Germany and Europe and represents the baby Jesus.

There are five different parts to the Christingle:

The orange represents the world which is round.

The candle in the middle stands tall and gives light like the love of God.

The red ribbon goes round the world and represents the blood of Jesus when he died on the cross.

The four sticks point North, South, East and West but also represent the four seasons.

The fruit and nuts and sometimes sweets, represent the fruits of the earth which grow because of the sun and the rain.

So are you ready for Advent and the opening of the first door of your Advent calendar?