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Advent is the season observed in Christian churches as waiting and preparing for  celebrations of the Nativity of Jesus. The word derives from a Latin term meaning "coming."

Advent in the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church refers to the 40-day Nativity Fast during which no meat or dairy is consumed and, depending on the day, faitful members also avoid olive oil, wine and fish.

Advent consists of of four Sundays and weeks leading up to Christmas.

In medieval England, an early form of Nativity scenes called 'advent images' 
were carried around door-to-door and used to solicit donations. The images usually consisted of two dolls representing Mary and the baby Jesus in a box decorated with ribbons and flowers.

Advent Calendars

Originating in the 19th century, Advent calendars began as chalk lines on a door marking the days until Christmas. This evolved into paper calendars made of
paper with 24 or 25 little windows. One window is opened each day during Advent revealing a Christmas picture.

In recent decades, chocolates or other treats have been inserted beneath each window, giving sweet incentive to the countdown.

Advent Candles

Like the Advent calendars, Advent candles are used to mark the passsage of time until Christmas. On the first Sunday of Advent the candles with the days up to Christmas marked on them are lit and burned down to the next line. The same thing is done each day and then the remaining candle is burnt on Christmas day.

An Advent Crown is another form of candles used for Advent countdowns. These are usually found in churches rather than homes. The crown is usually a wreath of greenery with four candles around its perimet and one in the middle.

One candle is lit on the first Sunday of Advent, two are lit on the second Sunday and so on.

The first candle often represents Isaiah and other prophets in the Bible that predicted the coming of Jesus. The second represents the Bible. The third represents Mary, the mother of Jesus. And the fourth represents John the Baptist, who told the people in Israel to get ready for Jesus' teaching.

The middle candle is lit on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve, representing Jesus as the light of the world.

In many churches, the color purple is used to signify the season of Advent. On the third Sunday, representing Mary, the color is sometimes changes to pink or rose.


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