All About Advent

The Real Meaning of the Season

What is Advent?

Advent is the Catholic liturgical season of preparation leading up to Christmas Day. The word advent is derived from the Latin word adventus, which means coming. During Advent we anticipate the coming of Jesus as a baby. It’s a penitential time full of reflection, excitement, and hope as we prepare to celebrate his birth.

When Does Advent Begin?

Advent officially begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on December 24. It marks the beginning of the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar year. This year Advent begins on Sunday, December 3, 2023. Christmas Eve is the Fourth Sunday of Advent, with Christmas falling on a Monday. Four weeks isn't long, but that still leaves plenty of time to spend some quiet time preparing for Jesus’ coming.

Is Christmas Day a Holy Day of Obligation in 2023?

Holy Days of Obligation are days Catholics should attend Mass and do their best to avoid unnecessary work. All Sundays and other important feast days, like Christmas, are Holy Days of Obligation. To fulfill this requirement Catholics can attend a vigil the evening before or a day of Mass. 

Christmas falls on a Monday in 2023. This means that a vigil Mass on Saturday, December 23 or a morning Mass on Sunday, December 24 fulfills the Fourth Sunday of Advent obligation. A vigil Mass on Sunday, December 24 or Mass on Christmas Day fulfills the Holy Day obligation. 

The Mass is essential to Catholic spirituality. Holy Days of Obligation, sometimes jokingly referred to as Holy Days of Opportunity, provide chances to deepen our faith and grow in our relationship with God through worship and reflection.

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Advent Traditions

Advent traditions provide unique opportunities for us to prepare our hearts and minds for Jesus! One Advent tradition that kids love is the Advent calendar. This countdown until Christmas helps build anticipation and excitement. Many Catholic families set up an Advent wreath so they can light a candle and pray a special prayer together each Sunday. Since it’s a season of reflection, prayers like an Advent novena or the O’Antiphons are a great additional for a family or individual’s prayer routine.

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