Advent


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Advent

[Lat.,=coming], season of the Christian ecclesiastical year preceding Christmas, lasting in the West from the Sunday nearest Nov. 30 (St. Andrew's Day) until Christmas Eve. In the Roman Catholic Church it is traditionally considered a season of penitence and fasting, to prepare for the holy day, and its liturgical color is purple. However, the Roman observance has always contained an element of joyful anticipation of Christmas, a feeling that prevails during this season in Western churches today. Originally Advent was seen as a time of preparation for the feast of Christ's nativity. But during the Middle Ages this meaning was extended to include preparation for Christ's second coming, as well as Christ's present coming through grace.

Advent

Christmas Lent, Little Lent,

St. Philip's Fast, Winter Lent

The word "Advent" comes from the Latin word adventus, which means "coming" or "arrival." The Advent season serves as a period of spiritual preparation for the coming of Christmas. Advent calls Christians to reflect on both the birth of Jesus and on the Second Coming of Christ (see also Jesus,Year of Birth). In Western Christianity Advent begins on the Sunday closest to November 30, St. Andrew's Day, and lasts till December 24, thereby extending over a period of 22 to 28 days. In the Orthodox Church Advent begins on November 15. The Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran traditions view Advent as the beginning of the Church year. The liturgical color for Advent is purple, reflecting the repentant mood characteristic of early Church Advent observances. By contrast, many popular customs associated with this period joyfully anticipate the coming of Christmas.

History

In 490 A . D . Bishop Perpetuus of Tours, France, established a period of penance and preparation for Christmas in his diocese. He advocated fasting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for a forty-day period preceding Christmas. This fast period began on the day after Martinmas, November 11, thereby acquiring the name "St. Martin's Lent" or "The Forty Days' Fast of St. Martin." The observation of a period of penance in preparation for Christmas gradually spread throughout France, and on to Spain and Germany, though it may have been largely restricted to monastic communities. In Spain groups of Christians were already fasting in preparation for Epiphany. In the early years there was little agreement regarding the dates and length of this pre-Christmas fast period. In some areas the fast began on November 11. In others, September 24, November 1, or December 1 might be the starting date. In 581 Mâcon ordered the laity throughout France to observe the forty-day period of fasting. Two hundred years later the Advent fast was adopted in England as well.

Advent was not observed in Rome until the sixth century. Pope Gregory I (590-604 A . D .) developed much of the Roman Advent liturgy and shortened the period of observance from six to four weeks. The joyous, festive spirit with which the Romans celebrated Advent clashed with the somber, penitential mood established in Gallic observances. For a number of centuries Advent celebrations throughout western Europe varied in tone, length, and manner of observance. Sometime after 1000 A . D . Rome accepted the practice of fasting during Advent, which in those times meant abstaining from amusements, travel for purposes of recreation, and marital relations, as well as certain foods. In addition, no weddings were permitted during fast periods.

By the thirteenth century the observance of Advent in western Europe had stabilized. It combined the Roman tradition of a four-week observance, the Gallic custom of fasting, and a liturgy that mingled the themes of penance and joy. In recent centuries the Roman Catholic Church reduced, and eventually eliminated, Advent fasting.

The Orthodox Church

The Orthodox churches of eastern Europe developed different traditions. Since the eighth century Orthodox believers have fasted in preparation for Christmas. Orthodox believers fast by eliminating meat, fish, dairy products, wine, and olive oil from their diets for a set period of time. A common Orthodox term for Advent is "Little Lent." In the Greek tradition, Advent is often called "Christmas Lent," a period that lasts from November 15 until the eve of December 24 and is observed with fasting, prayer, and almsgiving (see also Greece, Christmas in). The Orthodox period of preparation before Christmas may also be called "St. Philip's Fast" because it begins the day after St. Philip's Day. Armenian Orthodox believers fast for three weeks out of a seven-week Advent period, which runs from November 15 till January 6. Orthodoxy does not maintain a special liturgy for this period (see also Armenia, Christmas in).

Folk Customs

The folk customs of Advent reflect the anticipation and joy that characterize the weeks preceding Christmas in many countries. In many lands Nativity scenes are constructed and displayed. Advent may also be a favorite time of year to attend special Christmas concerts and performances. Many customs connected with the season feature the lighting of Advent candles. Indeed, the candle has become a symbol of the season. Some Christians fashion and display Jesse trees and Chrismon trees in observance of Advent. Others attend special church services, such as the Anglican Ceremony of Lessons and Carols. The Advent wreath keeps adults focused on the spiritual message of Advent. The Advent calendar offers children a toy to help them count the days until Christmas. Other children's customs include writing letters to the child Jesus or Santa Claus (see also Children's Letters) and participating in the Hispanic folk play called Las Posadas, in which children and adults recreate the Holy Family's search for a place to spend the night in Bethlehem. Frauentragen, or "woman carrying," is a German Advent custom which closely resembles Las Posadas. Children carry a picture or figurine representing the Virgin Mary to a neighborhood home. Once there, they sing or enact a brief scene from the Nativity story, say a prayer, and place the picture or figurine near the family crucifix. The children return for the image the following evening and carry it to a new home. In this way they act out Mary and Joseph's search for lodging in Bethlehem. On Christmas Eve the children carry Mary back to the church, where she takes her place in the Nativity scene. Musical folk plays were once a popular Advent custom in Germany. Known as Herbergsuchen, or "search for the inn," this folk drama also reenacted Mary and Joseph's search for shelter in Bethlehem. The play ended happily with the birth of the baby Jesus in a stable.

In Latin America and central Europe the nine days before Christmas take on a special character. In Latin America many people participate in a popular novena in honor of the Christ child. A novena is a series of special religious services or private devotions held on nine consecutive days. In Europe the nine days before Christmas were sometimes called the "Golden Nights," as many of the religious observances and popular celebrations that characterized the period occurred after dark.

Further Reading

Henderson, Helene, and Sue Ellen Thompson, eds. Holidays, Festivals, andCelebrations of the World Dictionary. Second edition. Detroit, Mich.: Omnigraphics, 1997. Metford, J. C. J. The Christian Year. London, England: Thames and Hudson, 1991. O'Shea, W. J. "Advent." In New Catholic Encyclopedia. Volume 1. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967. Russ, Jennifer M. German Festivals and Customs. London, England: Oswald Wolff, 1982. Slim, Hugo. A Feast of Festivals. London, England: Marshall Pickering, 1996. Thompson, Sue Ellen, ed. Holiday Symbols. Detroit, Mich.: Omnigraphics, 1998. Weiser, Francis X. Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1952.

Web Site

The German Embassy in Washington, D.C., offers a page describing Advent customs in Germany:

Advent

Type of Holiday: Religious (Christian)
Date of Observation: Sunday closest to November 30 through December 24 in the West; November 15 through December 24 in the East
Where Celebrated: United States, Great Britain, Europe, and by Christians throughout the world
Symbols and Customs: Advent Calendar, Advent Candle, Advent Letters, Advent Plays, Advent Wreath
Colors: Advent is associated with blue, the color of the Virgin Mary's cloak. The liturgical color is purple, a reminder of the fact that Advent was originally a time for fasting and penance.
Related Holidays: Christmas, Christmas Eve

ORIGINS

Advent is a Christian holiday. The word Christian refers to a follower of Christ, a title derived from the Greek word meaning Messiah or Anointed One. The Christ of Christianity is Jesus of Nazareth, a man born between 7 and 4 B . C . E . in the region of Palestine. According to Christian teaching, Jesus was killed by Roman authorities using a form of execution called crucifixion (a term meaning he was nailed to a cross and hung from it until he died) in about the year 30 C . E . After his death, he rose back to life. His death and resurrection provide a way by which people can be reconciled with God. In remembrance of Jesus' death and resurrection, the cross serves as a fundamental symbol in Christianity.

With nearly two billion believers in countries around the globe, Christianity is the largest of the world's religions. There is no one central authority for all of Christianity. The pope (the bishop of Rome) is the authority for the Roman Catholic Church, but other sects look to other authorities. Orthodox communities look to patriarchs and emphasize doctrinal agreement and traditional practice. Protestant communities focus on individual conscience. The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches are often referred to as the Western Church, while the Orthodox churches may also be called the Eastern Church. All three main branches of Christianity acknowledge the authority of Christian scriptures, a compilation of writings assembled into a document called the Bible. Methods of biblical interpretation vary among the different Christian sects.

The name "Advent" comes from the Latin adventus, meaning "coming" or "arrival." Just as LENT is a period during which Christians prepare for EASTER, Advent is a period of preparation for CHRISTMAS. It was originally observed by Eastern and some Western churches as preparation for the feast of EPIPHANY (January 6), which at one time celebrated both the birth of Jesus Christ and his baptism. When Rome fixed December 25 as the commemoration of Jesus' birth in the fourth century, however, Advent underwent a shift not only in time but in mood as well. No longer a period of fasting and somber self-reflection, Advent became a time of joyous anticipation.

In 490 C . E . Bishop Perpetuus of Tours, France, established a period of penance and preparation for Christmas in his diocese. He advocated fasting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for a forty-day period preceding Christmas. This fast period began on the day after MARTINMAS, November 11, thereby acquiring the name "St. Martin's Lent" or "The Forty Days' Fast of St. Martin." The observation of a period of penance in preparation for Christmas gradually spread throughout France and on to Spain and Germany. Later, the Advent fast was adoped in England as well.

Advent was observed in Rome beginning in the sixth century. Pope Gregory I (590-604 C . E .) developed much of the Roman Advent liturgy and shortened the period of observance from six to four weeks. The joyous, festive spirit with which Romans celebrated Advent clashed with the somber, penitential mood established in Gallic observances. For a number of centuries Advent celebrations throughout Europe varied in tone, length, and manner of observance. By the thirteenth century the observance of Advent in western Europe had stabilized. It combined the Roman tradition of a four-week observance, the Gallic custom of fasting, and a liturgy that mingled the themes of penance and joy. In recent centuries, the Roman Catholic church reduced and eventually eliminated fasting. In the West, Advent Sunday is the Sunday nearest the Feast of St. Andrew (November 30). The overall length of the Advent period may vary from twenty-two to twenty-eight days, but it always ends on CHRISTMAS EVE. The Orthodox (Eastern) Christian year begins on September 1, and Advent is observed beginning on November 15.

SYMBOLS AND CUSTOMS

Advent Calendar

The popular Advent calendar that parents give their children to help them count the days until Christmas originated in Germany, but quickly spread to other countries. It may consist of a "Christmas House" printed on cardboard with small cutout windows that can be opened by folding them back, revealing a miniature picture or symbol associated with the feast of Christmas. The calendar is hung on a wall or window at the beginning of December, and one of the windows is opened each day. The last door or window is opened on Christmas Eve, and it shows the Nativity scene. Aside from this reference to the religious aspect of the season, however, Advent calendars are primarily a means of keeping children's minds occupied during the long wait for the arrival of Santa Claus.

Advent Candle

The Advent candle may be a single large candle located in a central place in the home or four separate candles set in a special holder. The candles are usually white and may be hand-dipped. One candle is lit on Advent Sunday and allowed to burn down a little way. On the second Sunday, both the first and the second candles are lit for a while-and so on, until all four candles are burning at different levels on the Sunday preceding Christmas Eve. Like the Advent calendar, these candles serve as a reminder that Christmas is coming soon.

At pre-Christmas church services in Germany, children hold a decorated orange in which a small candle has been inserted. Originated by the Moravian Brethren in eastern Germany, the candle is called the Christingle, which might have derived from either Christ-kindl, meaning "Christ Child," or Christ-engel, referring to the angel who brings gifts to children.

Advent Letters

A custom popular in Europe, Canada, and South America, Advent letters are notes addressed to Baby Jesus that children leave on their window sills when they go to bed on December 5, the eve of St. Nicholas' Day. The notes contain lists of Christmas presents the children hope to receive and are supposedly taken to heaven by angels or by St. Nicholas himself. In South America, children write their notes to "Little Jesus" between December 16 and 24, leaving them in front of the crèche for the angels to pick up.

This is very similar to the American custom of sending Christmas letters to Santa Claus at the North Pole. These letters are dropped in specially decorated red mailboxes that are put out every year a few weeks before Christmas.

Advent Plays

During Advent in Germany and Austria, the Herbergsuchen was a popular custom. People reenacted the Holy Family's fruitless search for shelter in Bethlehem on the night that Jesus was born. The performance usually ended with a "happy ending" tableau showing the Nativity scene.

A similar custom, LAS POSADAS, is popular in Central and South America, Mexico, and Hispanic communities in the U.S. Between December 16 and 24, several neighboring families gather in one house, where they prepare a shrine with a crib and traditional figures, but the manger itself is left empty. A procession moves through the house, pictures of Mary and Joseph are placed on the shrine, and a priest blesses everyone present. Sometimes a group of "pilgrims" will knock on the door and ask the owner of the house to let them in. This reenactment of Mary and Joseph's search for shelter (posada in Spanish) ends with a big party for the adults and an opportunity for the children to break a piñata filled with candy and suspended from the ceiling.

Frauentragen, or "woman carrying," is an old German Advent custom still practiced in some areas that closely resembles the Hispanic folk play LAS POSADAS. Children carry a picture or figurine representing the Virgin Mary to a neighborhood home. Once there they sing or enact a brief scene from the Nativity story, say a prayer, and place the picture or figurine near the family crucifix. The children return for the image the following evening and carry it to a new home. In this way, they act out Mary and Joseph's search for lodging in Bethlehem. On Christmas Eve, the children carry Mary back to the church, where she takes her place in the Nativity scene.

Advent Wreath

The Advent wreath is made of yew, fir, or laurel and is suspended from the ceiling or placed on a table. Four candles stand upright at equal distances around the circumference of the wreath, representing the four weeks of Advent. One candle is lit each Sunday during the Advent season. On the fourth Sunday, the family gathers in the evening to say prayers and sing Advent hymns, and all four candles glow.

Symbols for light played an important role in late November and early December, the season during which the pre-Christian festival of Yule was observed with the burning of torches and bonfires. When Christianity came along, many of these light and fire symbols were kept alive. By the sixteenth century, the custom of using candles as a religious symbol of Advent had been established in Germany and was spreading rapidly among Protestants and Catholics alike.

In some parts of Europe, it is traditional for someone named John or Joan to light the candles on the Advent wreath, because the Gospel of John refers to Christ as the "Light of the World." Another possible reason for this custom is that John the Baptist was the first one to see the light of divinity shining around Jesus when he was baptized in the River Jordan.

The wreath itself is an ancient symbol whose eternal circle stands as a reminder of new beginnings at a time of apparent endings. While Advent falls near the end of the calendar year, it marks the beginning of the Christian year. Because the wreath is made of evergreens, it also serves as a symbol of eternal life in Christian terms and the life that goes on in nature despite the cold winter weather.

FURTHER READING

Barz, Brigitte. Festivals with Children. Edinburgh: Floris Books, 1987. Bellenir, Karen. Religious Holidays and Calendars. 3rd ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2004. Brewster, H. Pomeroy. Saints and Festivals of the Christian Church. 1904. Reprint. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1990. Christianson, Stephen G., and Jane M. Hatch. The American Book of Days. 4th ed. New York: H.W. Wilson, 2000. Gulevich, Tanya. Encyclopedia of Christmas & New Year's Celebrations, 2nd ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2003. Harper, Howard V. Days and Customs of All Faiths. 1957. Reprint. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1990. Henderson, Helene, ed. Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary. 3rd ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2005. MacDonald, Margaret R., ed. The Folklore of World Holidays. Detroit: Gale Research, 1992. Metford, J.C.J. The Christian Year. New York: Crossroad, 1991. Santino, Jack. All Around the Year: Holidays and Celebrations in American Life. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994. Spicer, Dorothy Gladys. Festivals of Western Europe. 1958. Reprint. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1993. Weiser, Franz Xaver. Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1958.

WEB SITES

Christian Resource Institute www.crivoice.org/cyadvent.html

New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia www.newadvent.org/cathen/01165a.htm

Advent

From the Sunday closest to November 30 to December 24 in the West; from November 15 to December 24 in the East
The Advent season marks the beginning of the Christian year in Western Christianity. Its length varies from 22 to 28 days, beginning on the Sunday nearest St. Andrew's Day and encompassing the next three Sundays, ending on Christmas Eve.
In the Roman Catholic Church and those of the Anglican Communion the third Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday, from the first word of the introit, "Rejoice." Rose-colored vestments may replace the purple, and flowers may be on the altar. Originally a period of reflection and penitence in preparation for Christmas—in much the same way that Lent is in preparation for Easter—Advent has sometimes been referred to as the Winter Lent . But over time the restrictions of Advent have become greatly relaxed. Today it is usually associated with the Advent calendars that parents give their children to help them count the days until Christmas.
In Orthodox (Eastern) Christianity, the church year begins on September 1, and Advent begins on November 15. The Advent fast is called the Little Lent, because it's shorter than the Great Lent preceding Easter.
SOURCES:
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 802
BkFestHolWrld-1970, p. 127
DaysCustFaith-1957, p. 302
DictWrldRel-1989, pp. 5, 154, 175
EncyChristmas-2003, pp. 3, 7, 8, 10
EncyRel-1987, v. 3, p. 441
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 680
HolSymbols-2009, p. 7
OxYear-1999, p. 598
RelHolCal-2004, pp. 83, 115
SaintFestCh-1904, p. xiii

Celebrated in: Germany


Advent (Germany)
Sunday nearest November 30 through December 24
Many German households observe Advent with an Advent wreath. Traditionally fashioned from a fir branch entwined with gold and silver ribbons or bits of red thread, the wreaths also contain holders for four candles. German families display the wreath on a tabletop or suspend it from the ceiling. One candle is lit on each of the Sundays in Advent. An old Roman Catholic tradition called for lighting the candles on Saturday instead. Many German households light a "Star of Seven," a seven-branched candelabrum, on Christmas Eve, and at midnight carry the lit "star" though the dark to the village church for the Christmas Eve service.
SOURCES:
BkFestHolWrld-1970, p. 128
EncyChristmas-2003, pp. 3, 6, 7, 10, 276
FestWestEur-1958, p. 79
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 680
OxYear-1999, p. 598

Celebrated in: Germany

Advent

Christianity the season including the four Sundays preceding Christmas or (in Eastern Orthodox churches) the forty days preceding Christmas

ADVENT

(games)
/ad'vent/ The prototypical computer Adventure game, first implemented by Will Crowther for a CDC computer (probably the CDC 6600?) as an attempt at computer-refereed fantasy gaming.

ADVENT was ported to the PDP-10, and expanded to the 350-point Classic puzzle-oriented version, by Don Woods of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL). The game is now better known as Adventure, but the TOPS-10 operating system permitted only six-letter filenames. All the versions since are based on the SAIL port.

David Long of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business Computing Facility (which had two of the four DEC20s on campus in the late 1970s and early 1980s) was responsible for expanding the cave in a number of ways, and pushing the point count up to 500, then 501 points. Most of his work was in the data files, but he made some changes to the parser as well.

This game defined the terse, dryly humorous style now expected in text adventure games, and popularised several tag lines that have become fixtures of hacker-speak: "A huge green fierce snake bars the way!" "I see no X here" (for some noun X). "You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike." "You are in a little maze of twisty passages, all different." The "magic words" xyzzy and plugh also derive from this game.

Crowther, by the way, participated in the exploration of the Mammoth & Flint Ridge cave system; it actually *has* a "Colossal Cave" and a "Bedquilt" as in the game, and the "Y2" that also turns up is cavers' jargon for a map reference to a secondary entrance.

See also vadding.

References in classic literature ?
The rope made itself unpopular long before the crowd had fully realised his advent over the trees.
As when a window is opened a whiff of fresh air from the fields enters a stuffy room, so a whiff of youthfulness, energy, and confidence of success reached Kutuzov's cheerless staff with the galloping advent of all these brilliant young men.
The comings and goings of David are unnoticed by perambulators, which lie in wait for the advent of Porthos.
With the advent of the Bos--they call the thing a thag within Pellucidar--two spears were tossed into the arena at the feet of the prisoners.
Now he wore real clothing again for the first time since the ape-folk had stripped us of our apparel that long-gone day that had witnessed our advent within Pellucidar.
The blacks who had witnessed his advent looked on in amazement as they saw the naked giant leap easily into the branches of the tree from whence he had dropped so uncannily upon the scene, and vanish as he had come, bearing away their prisoner with him.
The enclosure contained a herd of goats which immediately upon the advent of the carnivore started a mad stampede to the opposite end of the corral which was bounded by the south wall of the city.
Although battling for his life, Sing had not failed to note the advent of the strange young giant, nor the part he had played in succoring the professor, so that it was with a feeling of relief that he saw the newcomer turn his attention toward those who were rapidly reducing the citadel of his own existence.
Tarzan was nearer to contentment than he had been since the peace and tranquility of his jungle had been broken in upon by the advent of the marooned Porter party.
Anne and Priscilla and Phil had awaited her advent rather dubiously; but when Aunt Jamesina was enthroned in the rocking chair before the open fire they figuratively bowed down and worshipped her.
Lady Anselman's party was suddenly increased by the advent of some acquaintances from an adjoining table, all of whom desired to be presented to Madame Selarne.
With the advent of Burning Daylight the whole place became suddenly brighter and cheerier.