Advent 101

Advent 101

Christmas 101 • Epiphany 101

What is Advent?

Advent is a season of the church year during which we prepare our hearts for Christ's coming. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year for Christians. [Liturgical means "from liturgy," which means the forms and functions of public worship.]

When is Advent?

The dates of Advent vary each year, but it always contains the four Sundays before Christmas Day.

When did Christians begin observing Advent?

The season of Advent began being observed around the fourth century of Christianity. In recent years, Protestant churches have begun to reclaim that part of their history by observing Advent.

What does the Advent Wreath represent?

Lots of people celebrate Advent by using an Advent wreath. It's often four candles on a circular wreath signifying the four weeks of Advent. A candle in the center is the Christ candle, lit on Christmas Day and Epiphany. Usually the four candles are purple or blue. If you celebrate Gaudete Sunday on the third week, that candle is pink. (Gaudete means "rejoice" in Latin.) The Christ candle is white. Advent's primary message is to wait, listen, get in touch with God, and prepare our lives and hearts for Jesus' coming. For speeded up, stressed out people (that would be most of us), this is an intriguing invitation. Observe Advent -- and get more in touch with God.

What is an Advent Calendar?

An Advent calendar is a traditional way to count down the days of the season. Some Advent calendars have special doors or flaps that open to reveal a special treat or activity for the day. This tradition was first observed by German Lutherans in the 19th century, but the Advent calendar is now used by Christians of many denominations.

The Upper Room invites you to count down the days of the season with our interactive online Advent calendar. Each day reveals a special prayer or reflection.


An Advent Calendar from The Upper Room

The Upper Room Advent Calendar serves to guide your spiritual life during Advent. Each day offers a theme and an activity to engage or a meditation to read, all drawing from various Upper Room resources. As Advent invites us into hopeful expectation and new beginnings, may the following suggestions find you newly engaged in the season as you draw nearer to God and sense God drawing nearer to you. (NOTE: In an effort to provide from a range of Upper Room resources, the days mentioned in the various excerpt may not correspond exactly with the day on this Advent calendar in order to avoid duplication).