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Advent Traditions Around The World

December 3rd, 2019

The sacramental period of Advent – a period of four Sundays and four weeks of spiritual preparation – marks the beginning of Christmas.

Significance & History

Derived from the Latin word ‘adventus’, the origin of Advent cannot be precisely identified. It is traditionally believed to signify the coming of the Saviour. A glorious and pious period, Advent is a time for Christians to reflect on their faith through prayers and readings from the Bible. Earlier, the importance of Advent was similar to Lent, where followers undertook prayers and fasting for 40 days. However, over the years, Advent traditions have evolved. Here are a few countries around the world that observe unique Advent traditions:

Croatia

Advent is a big part of Croatia’s Christmas celebrations as 86% of the people in the country are Roman Catholics. For some believers in the country, Christmas preparations begin from late November, which is St Catherine’s Day (Sveta Kata). To mark the period, streets in the capital city, Zagreb, adorn a festive air as they are lined with hawkers selling intricately crafted souvenirs, mulled wine, and roasted chestnuts.

Germany

Germany witnesses grand preparations for Advent. Families come together to set up an Advent wreath with four candles lit on the four Sundays of the month. These candles are lit to signify the countdown till Christmas. Along with candles, families in Germany also arrange savoury delicacies around the wreath. These include delicious cookies and Stollen, a fruitcake for guests who join in every Sunday to sing carols with the family.

Also Read: A Gift Guide For You, This Christmas

Mexico

Advent in Mexico is celebrated slightly differently. From the 16th to the 24th of December, a nine-day religious procession known as Las Posadas (meaning ‘inn’ or ‘shelter’ in Spanish) takes place. Values such as humility, detachment, strength, trust, justice, and joy are enacted to remind the followers of Jesus’ teachings. However, Posada parties are not only about traditional rituals but also include socialising with family and friends, indulging in delicious food and partaking in fun activities for the whole family. Further, Advent festivities often include bursting a piñata filled with candy.

China

Interestingly, China too actively indulges in Advent preparations before Christmas, as one in twenty people in the country is a Christian. During Advent, Chinese Christians decorate their homes and windows with bright and colourful paper lanterns. The Philippines also follows a similar tradition where a parol occupies an auspicious corner of the house. The parol is a lantern in the shape of a shining star that represents the guiding light of the Magi.

Poland

The Polish take Advent very seriously and follow a few traditions. The period involves prayers, fasting, and attending pre-dawn mass known as ‘roraty’. Broadly, Advent is a tradition that focuses on reflecting the true interpretation of Christmas. It is a time when families get together to rejoice and celebrate the countdown to Christmas.