The Advent (Lent from 1 to 25 December). For Eastern Churches this is the season waiting for the birth of Christ. During this time the church prepares herself through cleansing and renewal for the advent of her Lord. It serves as a time of spiritual discipline and renewal in preparation for Christmas. Christians observe lent with fasting, prayer and self-sacrifice. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”.
Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming. In 2014 the four Advent Sundays are November 30, December 7, December 14, and December 21.
In recent times the most common observance of Advent outside church circles has been the keeping of an advent calendar or advent candle, with one door being opened in the calendar, or one section of the candle being burned, on each day in December leading up to Christmas Eve.