A time of preparation...
Hi, this is my first time writing on this blog. I'm a Broadcast Assistant on the BBC Learning English website.
I thought I'd write about Advent, the time of preparation for Christmas in the Christian Church.
Advent starts on the 4th Sunday before Christmas. This year it started on Sunday 27 November. Many churches have Advent Wreaths with candles in, one for each week, plus one for Christmas day. An Advent Wreath is made by twisting the leaves and stems of evergreen plants into a ring shape. Some people also use ribbons, flowers, fruit and twigs to add to the leaves. Four candles - one for each week of Advent - sit around the circle of the wreath; three purple and one rose (pink), and a white candle can also sit in the middle of the wreath to be lit on Christmas Day.
My friend Angela has sent me a picture of her family wreath, which is made using five candles, holly and ivy leaves and red berries. Sometimes pine branches are used too.
Purple is the colour used in the Catholic Church to symbolise a time of waiting or preparation. It is used in Advent (four weeks leading up to Christmas) and Lent (six weeks leading up to Easter). So the purple candles are lit on three of the four Sundays of Advent. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday of Advent, because it is 'Gaudete Sunday', a day to rejoice that Christmas - and the birth of Jesus Christ - has nearly arrived.
I have read that the tradition might have been started by a Protestant pastor in Germany during the 19th century. He made a circle out of wood and placed 19 small candles and 4 big candles around it. Every weekday during Advent one of the small candles was lit and every Sunday one of the big candles was lit, to symbolise the time leading up to Christmas.
Do you celebrate Advent in your country? What special traditions do you have for the beginning of Advent? Do you light an Advent Wreath in your church or in your home?
Or perhaps you have an Advent calendar?
If you are not a Christian, what other traditions do you have at this time of year? I'd like to hear about Diwali, which was celebrated recently, and Hanukah, which is coming up soon. Please share your winter festival traditions with me by commenting on this blog.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Advent - a time of preparation for Christians, leading up to Christmas
Advent Wreath - a ring of leaves, flowers, twigs, with five candles, one for each week of Advent and one for Christmas Day.
Evergreen plants - plants and trees which have leaves all year round
Christmas Day - the day Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ (25 December in the UK)
Holly - a bush with spiky leaves, which has red berries in the winter
Ivy - a trailing plant with green and white patterned leaves
Pine - an evergreen tree with green leaves that look like needles
Tradition - the passing on of cultural practices from generation to generation
Symbolise - to represent something using a symbol or image