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Brief Summary

Below is a short summary from Encyclopedia Brittanica, but there is much Advent content available online and you may enjoy searching for other overviews to learn more.


"Advent, (from Latin adventus, “coming”), in the Christian church calendar, the period of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas and also of preparation for the Second Coming of Christ.


In Western churches, Advent begins on the Sunday nearest to November 30 (St. Andrew’s Day) and is the beginning of the liturgical year. In many Eastern churches, the Nativity Fast is a similar period of penance and preparation that occurs during the 40 days before Christmas. The date when the season was first observed is uncertain. Bishop Perpetuus of Tours (461–490) established a fast before Christmas that began on November 11 (St. Martin’s Day), and the Council of Tours (567) mentioned an Advent season.

The liturgical meaning of the Advent season referred to the dual “coming” of Jesus—then Roman Catholicism the traditional liturgical colour for Advent is violet; many Protestant denominations have adopted blue or purple. The third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday, is commonly marked by the use of rose-coloured vestments and candles."


​Annually, the four Sundays before Christmas



  • In modern Advent, a focus on the four themes of: hope, peace, joy, love.

  • A time of anticipation and hope. It is practiced in almost all Christian denominations as a time to focus on the "Coming of Christ" - as marked by the Christmas anniversary of Jesus' birth or coming to Earth, studying Jesus' teachings that came to us, and by many as a reminder of the 'second Coming.' 

Common Customs​

  • Lighting a candle in the Advent wreath each Sunday, adding in a candle each week. After lighting candles, there is usually a short prayer.

  • During the Advent season, many perform daily devotions or reflections.

About this Tradition

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UU Advent

Observing the Weeks of Advent

Many UU congregations observe Advent in a way that emphasizes  our UU values. While some UUs may choose to continue the focus on Jesus, non-Christian UUs can find value and connection to an Advent season focused on anticipation and hope of things to come. The themes of hope, peace, joy, and love are central to all faith traditions within UU.​

Suggested Materials

  • A round wreath made from live evergreens, or a suitable substitution

  • 5 candles, recommended colors (using traditional non-Christian meanings of colors):

    • Dark/twilight blue candle to represent week 1: hope​

    • Light/sky blue candle to represent week 2: peace

    • Yellow candle to represent week 3: joy

    • Dark rose candle to represent week 4: love

    • White candle to represent the source of light and from which to light the other candle

    • (or use traditional Christian colors: 3 purple or dark blue, one pink, one white)

Lighting the Advent Wreath Ritual, by Rev. Erika Hewitt

Liturgy for Lighting of the Advent Candles, by Rev. Rosemary Morrison

Lighting the Candles of the Advent Wreath, by Rev. Lyn Cox

UU Shared Values

  • Love

  • Hope

  • Peace

  • Joy

You might wish to use one of these Advent Rituals shared here from the UUA Worship Web as a way to explore the meanings of Advent. Marking UU Advent Sundays can be done in service, and/or at home.

UU History: A UU Advent Calendar

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