Written by Renee Nordio
For most Christians, the Christmas season begins on the Sunday nearest November 30th. This date is the feast day of Saint Andrew, one of the twelve apostles of Christ. The nearest Sunday is the first day of Advent, a four-week period during which Christians prepare for the celebration of Christmas. The word advent, from Latin, 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐬 "𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠", and refers to the coming of Jesus on Christmas Day.
Advent has probably been observed since the fourth century. Originally, it was a time when Christian converts readied themselves for baptism. During the Middle Ages, Advent became associated with preparation for the Second Coming of Christ.
In early days, Advent lasted from November 11, the feast of St. Martin, until Christmas Day. Advent was considered a pre-Christmas season of Lent when Christians devoted themselves to prayer and fasting. The Orthodox Eastern Church observes a similar Lenten season, from November 15 until Christmas, rather than Advent. Many Christians still 𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰 𝐀𝐝𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐬𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐝 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐟 𝐉𝐞𝐬𝐮𝐬.
Many Christians have an 𝐀𝐝𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐰𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡 in their homes during the holiday season. Most of these wreaths are made of evergreen or holly branches and may lie on a table or hang on a door. The circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope we have in God, the hope of renewal and eternal life.
𝐅𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐜𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐥𝐞𝐬, one for each Sunday of Advent, are placed among the branches, and symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ. An 𝐚𝐝𝐝𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐭𝐞 candle is placed in the center and is lighted on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
Three candles are dark purple. Some churches and families use royal blue candles in place of purple, as royal blue can also signify royalty. Purple, however is the traditional color for the season of Advent. Purple was the most expensive dye in ancient times and was used by kings to indicate their royalty. Purple also signifies the repentance and patience of God's people as they await the arrival of their Lord.
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐀𝐝𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐲𝐦𝐛𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐳𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐟 𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐜𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐥𝐞; from Christ's First Advent (Coming), to His awaited Second Advent (Coming). These truths can be represented in a variety of teachings from the Bible, and represented on the Advent wreath, as well as marked for scripture readings and prayers during the lighting. Because Advent wreaths are an informal celebration, not all are the same. The exact meaning given to the various aspects of the wreath is not as important as the story it tells.
A purple candle is lighted the first, second, and fourth Sunday of Advent, and typically symbolizes Hope, Peace, and Love. The pink candle is reserved for the third Sunday of Advent and symbolizes Joy. In addition to the four Advent candles, most Advent wreaths also have a larger, white candle in the center called the Christ candle. This candle is either lighted on Christmas Eve or Day, or both, and represents the First Advent of Christ, His Birth.
In many countries, people use special 𝐀𝐝𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐬 or Advent candles to keep track of the 24 days before Christmas. An Advent calendar has a colorful Christmas scene, and each date is printed on a flap. One flap is lifted daily to uncover a holiday picture or a Biblical verse. On an Advent candle, the dates appear in a row down the side. Each evening, the candle is lit and then burned down to the next date. By Christmas Day, the entire candle has melted.
For many Christians, the Christmas season reaches a climax at midnight Mass or other religious services on Christmas Eve. Churches are decorated with candles, lights, evergreen branches, and bright red poinsettias. People sing Christmas carols and listen to readings from the Gospels of Saint Luke and Saint Matthew. Priests and ministers speak to the congregations about the coming of Christ and the need for peace and understanding among all people.
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐡𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐦𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐄𝐩𝐢𝐩𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐲, January 6. In Western Christian churches, Epiphany celebrates the coming of the Wise Men to the Christ child. Among Eastern Christians, this day celebrates Jesus' baptism. Epiphany falls on the 12th day after Christmas. The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" refers to the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany.
The Templar Woman is about being a Christian woman, serving the Lord with the spirit of the Knights Templar of antiquity. By praising God, uplifting others, and planting seeds we bring honor and glory to Him.