Sunday, December 02, 2007


(Behind, so this is a backdated entry to Advent Sunday December 2. I don't have time to do a lot of research today so using Wikipedia)

Advent is a Christian holiday, the beginning of the holy season of Christmas, wherein the Church waits and prepares for the celebration of the Nativity of Christ. The word "advent" is from the Latin words advenio, meaning "to come" o r adventus meaning "coming". The Greek equivalent is "parousia", commonly used in reference to the Second Coming. Christians believe that the season of Advent reminds us both of the original waiting by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting of the Christians now for the second coming of Christ.

The progression of Advent is often marked with an Advent calendar reckoning Advent to start on 1 December, a practice introduced by German Lutherans. We used these when I was an older child/teenager in the Methodist Church, but not in the Church of God in which I grew up. I think in the Methodist church we also had special readings each Sunday and the lighting of advent candles. A different family would do it every week. This period was at one time a period of fasting as strict as lent. This was later relaxed. Purple vestaments are worn at church services.

With regard to older customs, in England, there was a custom (now extinct) for poor women to carry around the "Advent images", two dolls dressed to represent Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary. If you were shown the dolls, you were expected to give them a halfpenny. If your household wasn't visited by the doll-bearers before Christmas Eve, you could expect bad luck. In Normandy, farmers hired children under 12 to run through their fields with torches setting fire to bundles of straw to drive out vermin.

In Italy, among other Advent celebrations, the Calabrian pifferari, or bagpipe players, enter Rome in the last days of Advent and play before the shrines of Mary, the mother of Jesus, the Italian tradition being that the shepherds played these pipes when they came to the manger at Bethlehem to pay homage to the infant Jesus.


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