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Celebrating Advent
Celebrating Advent

Many countries and nations across the world celebrate the Christian occasion of Advent. More recently the trend has been for much of Western Europe to mark Advent with a calendar full of treats - typically chocolate - that spans from the 1st through to the 24th of December. However, the traditional Christian celebration of Advent is observed a little differently.

The period of advent is considered a holy celebration as Christians await the birth of Jesus. It gives Christians time to reflect on the miracle they believe Jesus' birth to be, and to take comfort in the light of hope this season offers them.

The period is marked differently depending on which denomination of Christianity is followed, and where in the world they live, but they all have the end date of advent in common - Christmas Eve.

Western Christianity
In the western Christian calendar, the significant dates marked for Advent are the four Sundays before Christmas Eve. This means that, in 2016, the First Sunday of Advent falls on 27th November, the second on 4th December, the third on 11th December and the fourth on 18th December.

Celebrating with wreaths and candles
Western Christianity marks Advent with four (usually red) candles and a wreath. Each Sunday in Advent, another candle is lit. Many chose to replicate this away from the church too, most often with a dedicated 'advent candle' which is marked with 24 days, and burnt a little more each day.

Advent Wreath

Catholics also mark the time with a dedicated advent wreath, which is often adorned with the colours purple and rose.

Eastern Christianity
In Orthodox Christianity, Advent is more notably marked with a period called the Nativity Fast. This understanding of Advent begins much earlier - this year on the 15th November - and lasts until Christmas Eve, spanning 40 nights.

The Nativity Fast
One of four key fasting periods in the Orthodox calendar, the Nativity Fast is often considered one of the more lenient fasting periods. Orthodox Christians fast at this time to remind themselves not to be dependent on worldly things, and most importantly, many opt to fast in private, so as to not encourage judgement or 'hold themselves up as an example'.

There are rules which detail the food products that should be abstained from at this time. Beef, chicken, pork, milk, eggs and cheese are off the menu, but fish (with a backbone), wine and oil are allowed on certain days of the week before 20th December.

From this date, the fasting becomes more considered until Christmas day arrives, where Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Christ.

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