Did you take our Advent quiz? If not, click here! Want to share it with your Sunday school class? This "cheat sheet" is the right tool.
Candles are a frequent sight in churches and homes during the Advent season. Photo illustration by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications.
1. What does the word Advent (from the Latin adventus) mean?
The correct answer is arrival or coming. The Latin word "adventus" means "coming." As the Book of Worship points out, the season proclaims the comings of the Christ - whose birth we prepare to celebrate once again, who comes continually in Word and Spirit, and whose return in final victory we anticipate.
2. True or false: Like the 40 days of Lent, Advent is a fixed number of days before Christmas.
The correct answer is false. 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. When Christmas Day is on a Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent is on a Sunday, so there are four full weeks to the season. If Christmas is on any other day, the total number of Advent days will vary between 22 and 27.
Stained glass window featuring Charles Wesley from Grace United Methodist Church in Atlanta, part of the United Methodist Church Global Mission Center. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications
3. Which of these Advent hymns was written by Charles Wesley?
The correct answer is "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus." As children, we waited expectantly for Christmas, feeling it took so long to come. In some sense, this is a proper posture for the season of Advent. In “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” Charles Wesley wonderfully captured the anticipation of the people of Israel who longed hundreds of years for the coming of the Messiah. As we sing, we sense the words of the prophets calling the people to prepare the way of the Lord into history (Isaiah 40:3, Malachi 3:1-4), and into our hearts and lives.
- Charles Wesley's Gift of Music
- History of Hymns: "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus"
- Hymn Study: "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus"
4. Who originated Watch Night services?
The correct answer is John Wesley. Methodism’s founder created Watch Night services in 1740, presumably as an alternative to times of drunken revelry such as Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. It is included in the United Methodist Book of Worship. Wesley believed that Methodists and all Christians should reaffirm their covenant with God annually. This service is often used in United Methodist churches on New Year's Eve. The covenant service is also sometimes observed on New Year's Day or on the first Sunday in January.
- History of Watch Night Service
- Wesleys Take the Web: Watch night
- Resources for Watch Night Vespers and Vigil
Mary visits Elizabeth in this painting by Fra Angelico (circa 1395-1455).
5. According to tradition, approximately how far did Mary travel to visit Elizabeth?
The correct answer is approximately 100 miles. The Gospel of Luke tells us that Gabriel visited Mary in Nazareth (Luke 1:26), telling her she would give birth to Jesus. Mary then traveled to the home of her relative Elizabeth, who Luke tells us lived in the hill country of Judea (Luke 1:39). Tradition says that Elizabeth and Zechariah probably lived in or near the city of Hebron, nearly 100 miles from Nazareth. It would have taken Mary about a week to make the journey on foot. Later in her pregnancy, Mary would travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, another journey of 70-80 miles one way.
Before Christmas, many families decorate their homes with an Advent wreath, marking the four weeks of Advent. Photo by Jonathunder, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
6. Why are the Advent candles arranged in the shape of a circle?
The correct answer is circles symbolize eternity. Circles, because they have no beginning and no end, are a symbol of eternity, wholeness, and even the world itself. The wreath, a circle of evergreens (another symbol of eternity), is a reminder during Advent of our waiting for the eternal to come into our midst. In a few days, we will celebrate that God has come to us in the person of Jesus, continues with us in the presence of the Holy Spirit, and will come again to bring wholeness to all of creation.
7. What is a Jesse Tree?
The correct answer is a representation of Jesus' family tree. The Jesse Tree takes its name from the prophecy of Isaiah 11:1, "A shoot will grow up from the stump of Jesse; a branch will sprout from his roots" (CEB). This prophecy links the messiah to King David whose father was Jesse.
Jesse Trees are simple trees, representations of trees or branches that are decorated with special symbols used to tell the stories of Jesus' ancestors from creation through Jesus' birth. Each day from Dec. 1 through Dec. 24, a new symbol is added and the story it represents is read or told. Learn more on the answer page at the end of the quiz.
In some traditions, the third Sunday in Advent sees the lighting of the pink or rose candle. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.
8. On the third Sunday in Advent, some churches light a pink candle in the Advent wreath. Why?
The correct answer is rose is a color of joy. The rose candle is a symbol of joy. Advent is traditionally a season of penitence and a time for preparing our hearts to celebrate the gift of salvation Jesus brings. The third Sunday of Advent offers a break from the theme of penitence and focuses on the joy we find in Christ.
Vintage Advent calendar, "Im Lande des Christkinds," featuring art by Richard Ernst Kepler. Published by Gerhard Lang in Munich. Photo by Lewenstein, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
9. Do you know how the Advent calendar began?
The correct answer is all of the above. Advent calendars originated in Germany in the mid-19th century. The tradition began with families drawing a chalk line on the door for each day of December.
An Advent Clock was one way people marked the time, as well as lighting Advent candles, one for each day. Families also hung up a new image every day before Christmas. One mother created a “calendar” with 24 candies affixed to cardboard for her son, Gerhard Lang. Lang would grow up to be the first producer of printed Advent calendars featuring windows that opened to reveal colored pictures.
Baby Jesus and lamb figurine from Nativity scene. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.
10. What is the meaning of the Hebrew word “Emmanuel”?
The correct answer is God with us. In Hebrew, the term “Emmanuel” means “God with us.”