Advent is the name given by the Christian church to the period of four weeks leading up to Christmas Day. The actual start date varies each year dependant on which day of the week Christmas Day falls on. For example:-
- Back in 2016, it was the 27th of November.
- In 2017 it was 3rd of December
- This year (2018) it was on the 2nd of December
- But in 2019 it will be 1st December.
However, in some traditions, the first day of Advent will always be on the 1st of December. This gives a consistent 24-day countdown to Christmas Day. This is obviously more convenient for advent calendar manufacturers.
Traditional Celtic Christianity says that Advent always starts on November 15th each year.
When Did The Advent Season First Start?
The first record I could find was 567 AD. This was a command that went out to monks saying they should be fasting during the month of December leading up to Christmas. Advent is a Latin word simply meaning “coming”. This would almost always be a reference to the coming of Jesus birthday. So it would seem natural that these monks would be expected to fast in readiness for the coming of Jesus.
However, in some countries especially those following Orthodox and Eastern Catholic traditions the period lasts for forty days. They also encourage all believers to fast for that period of time.
Advent services in Garthdee
Here in Garthdee Church of Scotland, we mark the beginning of the season with a series of five candles being lit. One of them is lit each week culminating with the central one being lit on Christmas Day. Normally a different person would be invited to light a candle representing different parts of the congregation and the local community.
You can discover more about our plans for services leading up to our Christmas event here.