For most communities around the world, it’s a most wonderful time of the year. From staunch Christians to agnostics as well as others, this time of expectation signifies meaningful participation in sharing and goodwill for all. Bright coloured flashing lights, candles, tinsel and baubles. Evergreen Christmas trees large and small. Stars, angels and nativity scenes with carols and singing; all make up the community atmosphere of the Christmas season and warms the hearts of everyone.
Children look forward to and want to impress Father Christmas. Families plan and prepare themselves for gatherings with lavish menus that might include desirable succulent roasts, an array of seafood, and puddings that leave the imagination fulfilled. This is very special to us all, yet it is more than community gatherings and rituals as we know that these traditions are in place for hundreds of years.
The very first evidence of Advent can be found approximately around the year 400 AD. We can read of numerous reasons that explain the season of Advent. However, there are two reasons that are the most meaningful to us. It is the period of anticipation and expectation leading up to the coming of Christ. In the first instance, it was the fulfilment of the word of the prophets of old; the anticipation of the incarnation of God. He sent His Son, Jesus, who came and dwelt among men and He established the plan of salvation. Secondly, it is about our anticipation and expectation of the second coming of Christ. This is the fulfilment of the salvation plan of God.
In general Christianity, events include the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. There are various cultural ways that these days are physically highlighted. The most commonly known is the evergreen wreath with four candles. One candle is lit on the first Sunday of Advent, two candles are lit for the second Sunday of Advent and so on until the four candles are burning on the last Sunday prior to Christmas day.
Many families use an Advent calendar to count the days leading up to Christmas. These calendars take various forms. They are decorated with various Christmas scenes and decorations. Some are made of paper or cardboard with compartments that open and reveal a small toy or sweet each day. Another form is that of fabric pockets that also are filled with a surprising small toy or sweet for each day and then similarly there are timber boxes or cubbyholes in which enticements are prepared for each day in the lead up to Christmas.
Whatever your cultural and family rituals are, we wish all a blessed Advent period in the lead up to a joy filled Christmas.