Happy New Year: Christians celebrate new liturgical year on first Sunday of Advent

Happy New Year: Christians celebrate new liturgical year on first Sunday of Advent

Today marks the very first Sunday of Advent. In the Christian calendar, the season of Advent is a four-week observation which starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. Advent also marks the start of the liturgical year for the Catholic Church.

So in a way, Happy New Year to all Christian faithful!

The term Advent is derived from the Latin word “adventus,” which means arrival.

Christians around the world observe Advent as a way of preparing themselves — mind, body and spirit — for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.


While there is no official date as to when the observance of Advent started, St. Gregory of Tours — a Catholic bishop and historian — noted in his writings how Bishop Perpetuus directed the faithful to fast thrice from Nov. 11 until Christmas in the 5th century.

The observation underwent several changes. By the 13th century, Christians moved the fast to Nov. 30 until Dec. 25.

During Vatican II (Second Vatican Council) held in 1962 until 1965 — also known among the faithful as a period for the Church’s “spiritual renewal” and an occasion to reinforce unity among Christians around the world — Advent was defined as “a season of hope.”


Advent is basically marked by the four Sundays before Christmas. One popular way of marking these dates is done with the lighting of the candles on an Advent wreath.

An Advent wreath has four candles, representing the four Sundays of Advent. Generally speaking, these candles are lit once a week every Sunday, representing four virtues. The first candle (purple) represents hope. The second candle (purple) represents faith. The third candle (pink) represents joy. The last candle (purple) represents peace.

Sometimes, on Christmas Day, a fifth white candle is lit in the middle of the wreath, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.


The faithful are encouraged to prepare for Christmas Day in prayer. Advent also serves as a good reminder of the true spirit of Christmas in the midst of all the merry-making and gift-giving. May today mark the first of many blessed Sundays in the coming liturgical year. Happy New Year!


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