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Advent serves as a time of preparation and anticipation leading up to Christmas. This observance acknowledges the dual nature of Christ's first coming and his anticipated return, with its primary focus on spiritual reflection and renewal. The observance lasts for four weeks, incorporating various practices, symbols, and traditions across different Christian denominations, including Advent wreaths, calendars, and special prayers.
The tradition of observing Advent dates back to the fourth century. Initially observed as a period of fasting and penance, the practice has since evolved to reflect the diversity of Christian communities celebrating the season. Advent is typically observed across numerous Christian denominations, including but not limited to Roman Catholic, Episcopal, and Lutheran churches. Each tradition may have unique customs and practices during this time, which ultimately share a common theme of spiritual anticipation and reflection leading up to Christmas.
The observance of Advent is marked by various customs and traditions, such as lighting candles on an Advent wreath and using Advent calendars to count down the days until Christmas. Specific practices may differ between denominations and even among individual parishes or families, but the overall emphasis remains on preparing oneself spiritually for the celebration of Christ's birth and his promised return. The American observance of Advent generally begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which can fall between November 27 and December 3, depending on the year.
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Start of Advent references and related sitesNewadvent.org: Advent