What Is Advent?

Advent means “to come” or “arrive at” [venire: arrive/come].  In the church, Advent most often means “the coming of the Saviour.” In Western Church tradition, it is the four Sundays before Christmas—and the start of the liturgical church year.

Why get ready?

We often think of Advent as a time of preparation to get ready for Christmas. But it is more accurately a time to look forward to Christ’s coming and Christ’s reign.

It’s a time to get ready for (and look forward to) Christ, and the holy ruckus that Christ could create in our lives if we let in Christ’s radical message!

Chocolate, Santa Claus, and Hallmark Specials have softened and domesticated the counter-cultural message of Advent: that until there is a just peace everywhere, the world is not as it should be nor as it will be.

What are the Advent colours?

Some communities use purple for the season of Advent; others use blue. Both are correct.

Purple is a traditional liturgical colour for penitential seasons or seasons of preparation like Advent (which precedes Christmas) and Lent (which precedes Easter).  Blue was adopted as an alternative colour for the season, separating it from Lent.  Blue can often represent hope, the night sky, and Mother Mary.

Do you have other questions about the Advent and Christmas seasons? Send them to us at worship@united-church.ca.

Let’s get ready for Christ(mas)!

Alydia Smith is Program Coordinator, Worship, Music, and Spirituality for The United Church of Canada.