The Advent of Christmas And The Festive Period
According to the Cambridge English dictionary Advent means, ‘the fact of an event happening, an invention being made, or a person arriving’. Well, the event happening is Christmas, something new like an invention is to change the world, and the person arriving is the birth of Jesus. This is the belief of Christians, but many other religions, and many people with no religious belief, either acknowledge Christmas or still celebrate it as a time of kindness, reflection, giving and spending time with family and friends. Advent is the time of preparation, whether it is to make ourselves better people, to buy or make gifts for others, prepare to provide food and comfort, bring joy, and renew the pure innocence of childhood.
Advent wreathes: The wreathes are made of evergreens like pine, holly or ivy. Four candles are put at quarterly places around the evergreen circle with sometimes one in the centre of the circle. Each candle in the wreathes represent each Sunday coming up to Christmas, the four weeks of Advent with the middle candle then being lit on Christmas Eve. This middle candle is usually white. The 1st, 2nd and 4th weeks of Advent are represented by purple candles, but the third week of Advent is a rose colour. This rose-coloured candle represents Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means to rejoice. It has been said that the different candles signify, hope, peace, joy and love, in that order. Those are the things that really mean Christmas to me.
Advent calendars: These originally started in Germany in the nineteenth century. Before that German peole had marked each day by lighting a candle or marking walls or doors with a chalk mark. Then people started hanging a holy picture for each day which led to wooden calendars being made and eventually cardboard ones. It was around the 1920s that small doors were added with holy pictures behind each door.
Gradually over time Advent Calendars became commercialised with winter/ Christmas scenes such as snowmen and Christmas trees replacing religious one. Some began to contain small gifts or chocolates behind each door. It is possible to get religious of just festive calendars these days.
I know as a child I loved the excitement of opening a new door every day to see what lay behind and knew that this meant another day closer to the delights of Christmas. I also remember making our own advent calendars at home or school with pictures from old Christmas cards.
A Beautiful Poem I Came Across
Rowan Williams: Advent Calendar https://theadventusproject.wordpress.com/resources/poetry/rowan-williams-advent-calendar/ He will come like last leaf’s fall. One night when the November wind has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth wakes choking on the mould, the soft shroud’s folding. He will come like frost. One morning when the shrinking earth opens on mist, to find itself arrested in the net of alien, sword-set beauty. He will come like dark. One evening when the bursting red December sun draws up the sheet and penny-masks its eye to yield the star-snowed fields of sky. He will come, will come, will come like crying in the night, like blood, like breaking, as the earth writhes to toss him free. He will come like child.
Preparations In The Community
This is the time of year for Christmas craft fairs, practices for carol services and other Christmas ceremonies, switching on town Christmas lights, collecting food parcels for the homeless and needy and many other things.
This year times will be tough for many families with the higher cost of living, higher fuel costs and many other problems caused by the aftermath of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. People may decide to make gifts themselves or buy them in thrift /bargain stores. This isn’t always a bad thing. There is nothing more personal than a homemade gift. There is also great fun in accepting the challenge of getting something for a certain price. When I was young, my parents took us to the Christmas church bazaar and gave us so much money each, and with that we bought each of our siblings something from the stalls of second hand toys and books. We always enjoyed giving and receiving these gifts.
In my local town the Christmas lights will be still turned on but we will not be on as long as other years because of the cost of electricity etc.
‘The official switching on ceremony will take place on Saturday the 26th of November at 5pm at the Longford Courthouse and Councillor Gerry Warnock says the lights are a morale booster for people in the town.
“Christmas is a time of year that can be very difficult but it can be a massive morale booster for people who enjoy the whole activities of the time and the buzz that goes with it. We were very conscious of that and although there will be slight changes in it, we will have our spectacular Christmas lights display that we have every year, and that’s so important”.‘