When asked to submit a tradition about something important to her family, Barbara Kilikevich of California shared with us the Celebration of Advent, in which she describes Advent as, “the coming or arrival or something long-awaited or momentous.”
In her own words…
My family tradition (even now that my kids are grown) is the celebration of Advent.
Advent is a joyous time of the year, filled with anticipation. In the Christian tradition, Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas and lasts for four weeks. The word Advent means the coming or arrival of something long-awaited or momentous.
Every year I make my own Advent wreath by taking cuttings from evergreen trees and adding cuttings from some other plants as well, such as holly, thyme branches, eucalyptus and dried berries. Four candles (three purple and one pink) are placed around the wreath. There are several traditions surrounding the meaning of each candle. Typically, the purple candles symbolize prayer and preparation. The pink candle not only marks the second half of Advent, it is the color of joy.
As part of the Christmas holidays, Advent is a time of expectation and preparation for the coming of the Christ Child. It is an opportunity to prepare inwardly by reflecting on the meaningfulness we place on this time of year and outwardly by beginning my Advent ritual. Taking part in the rituals of the Advent season provides a gradual and progressive approach to the celebration of Christmas Day. It helps me to slow down, develop a readiness in my heart to receive the real gift of this season, and keep myself focused on the true meaning of the Christmas holiday.
On the first Sunday evening of Advent, I light one candle with reverence and do so each night of that week. If I can, I keep my Advent candles burning for several hours. If I have something else I must
do in the evenings, I will just have the candles lit during dinner. The point is to at least light the candles every evening to keep my focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
During the first week, only the first candle will be burning. On the second Sunday, I will light the first and second candle, and have two candles burning each night, and so on. I choose to use the traditional colors of purple and pink, and light the pink candle on the third Sunday to mark the second half of Advent.
Advent is a wonderful time to reflect on what Christmas means to you, and to turn your thoughts inward and discover your own inner light and strength.
Editor’s Note #1: Christmas is about Sharing. To this end, we’ve asked for readers to contribute their own Christmas traditions and family stories. By sharing traditions, everyone gets a better understanding about how Christmas is celebrated around the world.
Editor’s Note: #2: While Barbara described the coming or arrival of something long awaited or momentous, the etymology of the word ‘Adventure’ should not be confused with ‘Advent’. According to Etymy Online, “ADVENTURE: c.1200, auenture ”that which happens by chance, fortune, luck,” from O.Fr. aventure (11c.) “chance, accident, occurrence, event, happening,” from L. adventura (res) ”(a thing) about to happen,” from adventurus, future participle of advenire ”to come to, reach, arrive at,” from ad- ”to” + venire ”to come”. Meaning developed through “risk/danger” (a trial of one’s chances), c.1300, and “perilous undertaking” (late 14c.) and thence to “a novel or exciting incident” (1560s). Earlier it also meant “a wonder, a miracle; accounts of marvelous things” (13c.). The -d- was restored 15c.-16c.”