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The meaning of Advent

Advent is a word with Latin roots - it means "approach" or "coming" - but what is Advent, really?

Advent is the beginning of the new liturgical year for the Roman Catholic Church. On the first Sunday of Advent, which begins on December 3rd this year, the Church celebrates its own kind of New Year's Day. Advent begins each year on the Sunday closest to November 30th, which is the feast day of Saint Andrew the Apostle.

Is Advent The Same As Christmas?

Sometimes people mistakenly think that  Advent is part of the Christmas celebration. But actually, Advent is a time of preparation all its own. Christmas doesn't actually begin until the first Mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve, and then we enter the beautiful season of Christmas and Christmastide. Advent is given to us as a time to prepare our souls for the coming of the Lord.

This season is very similar to Lent, so its nickname is the "Little Lent." In our current culture, we are tempted to skip over the penitential aspects of Advent and focus on the joy of Christmas. This is a great tragedy. Focusing on the joy alone denies a crucially important truth: that the Christ Child is Our Lord and Savior, Who will suffer and die for our salvation.