What is Advent?

Advent wreaths, advent candles and advent calendars...I grew up catholic surrounded by these items, but I never really understood what they were for. Is it a way to get a treat each day in December? Or just another Christmas decoration? Or simply a countdown to Santa’s arrival?

My advent wreath last year

                  My advent wreath last year

Advent is defined as the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. For Christians specifically, it is the period beginning the four Sundays before Christmas and is observed by some as a time of prayer and fasting. Although there is much to be read about the different thoughts on Advent as well as the history and meaning behind it, I enjoy the simplicity of lighting the candles each Sunday before Christmas. In recent years, my wreath reminds me to focus on my family and on God when I get lost in the hustle and bustle of shopping and decorations.

I have my Advent calendar that counts down the days until Christmas, but on Sunday as I light my candle, I will slow down and think about my life. While researching Advent for this article I came across an idea that I had not read before. It said that the candles each week should represent the concepts of hope, peace, joy and love. I think that as I light my first candle today, I am going to spend some time in thought and even journal about my long term hope for mine as well as my loved ones futures with a focus on what I am hoping for as I go into this holiday season too. However you may celebrate this holiday season, my wish is that you also slow down and spend some time reflecting on your hopes, on peace for yourself and the world, on the love that you give as well as receive and on what brings you true joy each week.

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