Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of the Lord – we prepare for the celebration of His coming as a baby 2000 years ago at Christmas, we prepare for His second coming at the end of time, and we prepare for His coming into our hearts today, especially in the Most Holy Eucharist. So, Advent is a time of preparation, of hopeful watchfulness. We do this by seeking a deeper conversion in our hearts, through prayer, penance, and sacrifice. Purple is the color of the season, because it is not only the royal color of Christ the King, it is also the color of penance. And so, in a way similar to the season of Lent, we spend this season in acts of penance and prayer.
There are many ways to enter into the season of Advent. One way is to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation – seeking forgiveness for our sins and reconciliation with God is an important way to prepare for Him. We might also go to daily Mass periodically, in addition to Sunday Mass. Praying the Liturgy of the Hours is another way to prepare for the Lord – this prayer of the Church can be found in a book called “The Liturgy of the Hours” or a shorter version in a book called “Christian Prayer.”
We can also plan to do something extra in the way of prayer during Advent – perhaps that is praying the Liturgy of the Hours, or using an Advent meditation booklet. Fasting and penance are also encouraged during this season: we could give up TV, candy, the internet, etc. Almsgiving and works of mercy are also a part of this season – we can give to the poor or volunteer our time in service, do kind deeds for members of our family or community. We can also celebrate the season by our decorations and music: Decorate with Advent purple, and save the big decorations for Christmas Eve. Some people choose to put up the Advent wreath and the Christmas tree, but wait to put the ornaments on until Dec. 24. Some use purple during Advent and change it to red and gold on Christmas Eve. We can listen to Advent music, and save the Christmas music for the Christmas season. Some also put out the Nativity Scene, but wait to put the baby Jesus and the shepherds there until Christmas day, and wait to bring the Magi to the scene until the Epiphany (Jan. 6).
The celebration of Christmas lasts until the Baptism of the Lord (the Sunday after January 6 – Epiphany), so we can leave our decorations up until then, and continue playing Christmas music all through the season of Christmas. Some families choose to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas (Christmas to the Epiphany), and open small gifts throughout or save them until the day the Magi arrived with their gifts for the baby Jesus (Epiphany). Here are a few ways to celebrate Advent and Christmas: Advent Calendar, Advent Wreath, Preparing the Manger, Advent Angels, Jesse Tree , O Antiphons & Christmas Novenas, Saints and Feasts of Advent & Christmas, Christmas Lights Tradition, Las Posadas, or Birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Day.
Blessed Advent to you all!