The season of Advent begins the ecclesiastical year in the Western Churches. The season of Advent always starts on the Sunday of the year that is the closest Sunday to the feast day of St. Andrew, the Apostle. The feast day of St. Andrew is on 30 November.
This therefore means that the earliest date, on which Advent can begin, is 27 November, as it does this year. The latest date in the year, on which Advent will ever begin, is 3 December. Therefore, Advent could have anything from 28 to 21 days in the season, depending on the date when it begins. The season of Advent always includes 4 Sundays.
The word Advent derives from the Latin word “adventus” meaning “coming”. The traditional colour of Advent is purple or violet, which symbolises the penitential spirit. During the season of Advent we are admonished:
- “to prepare themselves worthily to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord's coming into the world as the incarnate God of love,
- thus to make their souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer coming in Holy Communion and through grace, and
- thereby to make themselves ready for His final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world.”