Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fun Facts Surrounding Advent

Like with Lent, we will be utilizing the daily Advent meditations to provide a few things to think about during this Advent season.  To get us started on this St. Andrew's Day, here are a few fun facts about Advent:
  • Advent, the period leading up to Christmas, begins with the Sunday nearest to St Andrews Day (November 30) and always includes four Sundays. It can begin as early as November 27 or as late as December 3 meaning that advent can vary in length between 21 days and 28 days.
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas are the days between Christmas Day and Epiphany and represent the length of time that the three wise men from the East took to reach the manger of Jesus Christ after his birth.
  • The festival of Epiphany on January 6, for western churches, commemorates the showing of the Christ child to the three wise men. In the Orthodox tradition and other eastern churches it marks Christ’s baptism.
  • The names of the three wise men are Caspar, Balthazar and Melchior.
  • 26 December is traditionally known as St Stephen's Day, but in the UK it is more commonly known as Boxing Day. This expression came about because money was collected in alms-boxes placed in churches during the festive season. 
  • Silent Night was written in 1818, by Austrian priest Joseph Mohr. The story goes that his church organ was broken so he had to write a carol that could be sung by choir to guitar music.
While the practice of saying novenas is generally related to the Catholic Church, Anglicans and some Episcopals keep up the practice for their private devotions.  A novena is 9 days of devotions on the same subject.

St. Andrew's Prayer or the Christmas Anticipation Novena is slightly different than other Novenas that are said, in that rather than saying it once for nine days, this prayer is said 15 times a day from St. Andrew's Day until Christmas.  As a reminder of the "reason for the season" as they say, it's not a bad way to keep the right things in mind during the season:
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

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