Today is the first Sunday of Advent. This marks the start of the Christmas celebration, and within that, the Advent period, which spans the 4 weeks before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve, December 24th. It is also the beginning of the church year. Advent is a time of waiting, believers are waiting for the coming of the birth of Christ.
There are several customs associated with the Advent period: fasting, The Nine Days, making an Advent wreath, or even saying the Advent calendar.
An Advent fast is similar to Easter fast, the essence of which is moderation and mainly restricts the consumption of meat, eggs, dairy products, wine and oils. Typical Advent fasting dishes are fish and poppy seeds. In the last week of fasting, from 18 December, the consumption of fish was no longer allowed.
The Nine Days
During The Nine Days, Catholic believers say prayers at a different house every day and hold smaller ceremonies about the holy family. The Nine Days will begin on December 15, 9 days before Christmas. The women visit a total of 9 families and take with them a picture of a holy family taken from the sacristy of the church, which remains at a different family each evening. There is an opportunity for family prayer and singing together, after the ceremony the hostess will host the gathered with a little trifle and then they will go to Mass together.
Making an Advent wreath was originally a Lutheran custom: 24 candles were placed on a chariot wheel adorned with evergreens, and one more candle was lit each day as Christmas approached: red candles were lit on weekdays and Saturdays, and white candles on Sundays. There are only 4 candles left on a modern Advent wreath that are lit on Advent Sundays or the night before, and the wreath is based on some simple evergreen branch. If you want to order an Advent wreath, click on the link!
The Advent calendar is also defined by the number 24. Advent calendars first appeared in Protestant families in the early 19th century, with the first printed copies of biblical quotations placed behind windows. Later, the Advent calendar became very commercial, and the windows hide everything from chocolate to matchboxes to colorful pictures, and more recently, cosmetics and drinks.
Advent is not specifically about gifts, but rather a period of anticipation characterized by reconciliation and caring for the family. However, we can express it all with Advent calendars containing small gifts or an Advent gift package.