The word advent literally means, “the coming of an important thing, person, or event.” In Christian faiths, then, the Advent season signifies the coming of Jesus the Savior via the event of his birth. Advent is the first season of the Christian church year; it includes Christmas and the four preceding weeks. In the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Moravian, Presbyterian and Methodist calendars, Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25, which is the Sunday between November 27 and December 3. It is also important to point out that Advent also signifies that God’s people continue to wait for the return of Christ in his glory.

Advent is intended to be a time of joyful expectancy and preparation. Individuals, families, and church communities use it as a time to grow spiritually. Many choose to engage in deep reflections about their faith, say additional or specialized prayers, and take extra steps to ensure their actions are Christ-like. While these are things that Catholics and other Christians should do year-round, Advent is a season to reaffirm one’s commitment because it is strong commitment and spiritual growth that make the celebration of Jesus’ birth far deeper and richer. Additionally, for four weeks, we can imagine that we are experiencing and remembering the hundreds of years that Go’d people were long for salvation and the savior before he was born.

In order to mark the time, many people utilize a Catholic advent calendar. Some are fun and whimsical, others are more religious and serious. No matter what, a Catholic advent calendar is not only a way to mark the time, but also serve as a daily reminder to prepare and/or pray. Even children - probably the most prolific users of Catholic advent calendars! - should be encouraged to reflect. Some individuals and families supplement their Catholic advent calendar with advent candles and a wreath, which can be lit daily or weekly (weekly is more common).

Whether you choose a Catholic advent calendar or wreath, or instead choose to mark the time in another way (daily journal or scripture reading, perhaps?), may you always keep the meaning of the Advent season close to your heart and at the forefront of your mind.