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Advent and Christmas

Artwork courtesy of Creative Commons

"Adoration of the Shepherds" by Gerard van Honthorst (1622).

 

The season of Advent, which comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” or “visit," begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year for Christians.

During Advent, we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ. We remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah and our own longing for, and need of, forgiveness, salvation and a new beginning. Even as we look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem, we also look forward anticipating the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of all that was promised by his first coming.

The Christmas season begins at sundown on December 24 (Christmas Eve) through Epiphany of the Lord (January 6). This period is popularly referred to as "the twelve days of Christmas."