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Advent is a Christian liturgical season observed as a period of spiritual preparation in anticipation of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. This observance is characterized by themes of hope, peace, joy, and love. The period serves as a reminder for Christians to take time for self-reflection and repentance, as well as participate in acts of charity, kindness, and goodwill towards others. Important aspects of Advent include symbolic decorations like the Advent wreath and calendar, as well as the incorporation of special prayers, hymns, and scripture readings during church services.
The tradition of Advent can be traced back to the 4th century when Christians in Western Europe began practicing fasting and prayer in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Over time, these practices have evolved into the modern customs that are observed today. In the European Union, Advent is a significant period for many countries with diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, and the observance of Advent often varies by country and denomination. Nevertheless, a common element across the EU is the engagement in charitable activities during this period, such as fundraising events or volunteering at local shelters and food banks.
In the European Union, Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas, which means that the observance can start as early as November 27 or as late as December 3, depending on the calendar year. During this time, participants may attend church services, light candles on an Advent wreath, or unwrap small gifts in an Advent calendar each day. The celebration culminates with Christmas Eve and the birth of Christ, bringing an end to the Advent season. In some EU countries, the period leading up to Christmas is also marked by festive events, such as Christmas markets, tree-lighting ceremonies, and traditional performances, adding to the shared anticipation and joy of the season.
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Start of Advent references and related sitesNewadvent.org: Advent