First Sunday of Advent

The First Sunday of Advent in 2023 begins on December 3rd marking the beginning of the Advent season and it lasts for around 22-28 days before Christmas. 

The first Sunday of Advent is the Sunday that falls closest to St. Andrew's Day (which takes place on November 30) . Advent is a time during which Christians begin their preparations to celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ. 

The First Sunday of Advent is considered the most important of the four Advent Sundays because it is when the preparations for Christmas and the Advent of Jesus Christ begin. This is the day when people start looking forward to the Second Coming of Christ. 

Advent decorations of candles and wreaths in the house
Advent decorations of candles and wreaths in the house.

First Sunday of Advent in Five Years

  • 2023: December 3
  • 2024: December 1
  • 2025: November 30
  • 2026: November 29
  • 2027: November 28

History of Advent

While the exact origins of Advent are unknown, records of the season have existed since at least the year 480.

According to St. Gregory of Tours, Advent was introduced in the 5th century by Bishop Perpetuus and was initially a period of fasting that lasted from November 11 until Christmas Day and was also known as the Nativity Fast. 

Throughout the centuries fasting fell out of fashion, stopped being compulsory, and instead became an optional observance of the Advent season.

Only the most devout Christians fasted for the whole of Advent, while some practiced fasting for a few days before Christmas. 

The official liturgical color of Advent is currently purple, or violet, which adorns churches and is worn by the clergy.

In the past, however, the liturgical color was black, it represented the feeling of atonement that accompanied the preparations for Christmas. It was only in 1963, at the Second Vatican Council, that the spirit of Advent changed from one of fasting and repentance to one of hope and joy for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

This is also the day when the first candle of the Advent wreath is lit. The wreath, made with a branch from a fir tree, usually has four candles for the four Sundays of Advent. The candlelit on the First Sunday of Advent symbolizes Hope. On the wreath, three candles are purple or blue, and one is pink. 

How to Observe the first Sunday of Advent

Many families will light the first candle on their Advent wreath and gather around it to pray. Children, and some adults, will also open the first window on their Advent calendars.

Many people also begin opening their Advent calendars on this day, counting down the days until Christmas by opening a different window on each day that has different chocolate or treats behind it. 

Churches often have a special service for the first Sunday of Advent, which several churchgoers attend to participate in the special Advent prayers and share in the hope of the Second Coming of Christ. 

Fun Facts

  • The word "Advent" is derived from the Latin word "adventus," meaning "coming" or "arrival.
  • The Advent calendar became popular in the United States after World War II, when soldiers returning home from Europe brought advent calendars for their children, thus beginning that tradition in America .
  • The Advent wreath, adorned with candles, symbolizes different aspects of the Advent season and is a common tradition.
  • Advent lasts for four Sundays, starting on the one closest to November 30th and ending on December 24th.
  • Purple or blue is the liturgical color for Advent, representing penance and expectation, while the pink candle symbolizes joy.
  • Advent calendars with 24 doors or windows are a popular tradition for counting down to Christmas.
  • Some families use a Jesse Tree with ornaments representing Jesus' biblical lineage during Advent.
  • Various cultures have unique customs, foods, and traditions associated with Advent.
  • In some countries, St. Nicholas Day falls during Advent, celebrating the inspiration for Santa Claus.
  • Beloved Christmas hymns like "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" are sung during Advent.
  • Many people use Advent devotionals or readings for spiritual reflection during the season.
  • The candles in the Advent wreath represent hope, peace, joy, and love, with a central Christ candle often lit on Christmas Eve.
First Sunday of Advent
First Sunday of Advent

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