First Sunday Advent
Advent Sunday is the first day of the liturgical year in the Western Christian churches. It also marks the start of the season of Advent. In the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, and Methodist churches the celebrant wears violet-coloured or blue vestments on this day, and the first violet or blue Advent candle is lit at Mass. In the Church of Sweden, however, the Liturgical colour is white: the motivation is that the day is a joyful feast (the colour is changed to blue, the traditional colour for Advent in Scandinavia, or—if the church does not possess blue vestments—violet after 6 p.m.). Zechariah 9:9–10 and Matthew 21:1–9 are always read in the service, and the symbolism of the day is that Christ enters the church.
Advent Sunday is the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. This is equivalent to the Sunday nearest to St. Andrew’s Day, 30 November, and the Sunday following the Feast of Christ the King. It can fall on any date between 27 November and 3 December. When Christmas Day is a Monday, Advent Sunday will fall on its latest possible date. Note that it is also possible to compute the date of Advent Sunday by adding three days to the date of the last Thursday of November; it can also be computed as the Sunday before the first Thursday of December.
Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”.
Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.
The Eastern churches’ equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast, but it differs in both length and observances and does not begin the church year, which starts instead on September 1. The Eastern Christmas fast does not use the equivalent parousia in its preparatory services.
Wikipedia contributors, “Advent Sunday,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed November 25, 2014).
Wikipedia contributors, “Advent,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed November 25, 2014).
“First Sunday in Advent, Sisimiut” by Nuka Kristiansen – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
“Adventskranz-1.Advent” by Micha L. Rieser – Own work by uploader (wreath and picture). Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.