Friday, November 15, 2019

Extended Advent

I'm trying a new-to-me thing this year. One of the earliest of Advent traditions has the observance beginning on the Feast of St. Martin, which is November 11, and there was no determined, consistent practice of shortening it to four weeks until much later and never in the Orthodox tradition. I'm observing Advent beginning with the second week in November, so this past Sunday was the first week in Advent in this practice. I'll be following what this United Methodist Church page calls Restorationist Advent. Their page says, "Advent used to be a season of seven Sundays until Pope Gregory VI shortened it to four in the eleventh century."

The Advent Project is "committed to working ecumenically to restore Advent from four (4) to seven (7) weeks". They have some resources, including O Antiphons for seven weeks and candle-lighting devotions for home use. There's another service for home use here.


Yes, this made my Advent wreath useless, but I've made one with more candles, pictured above, that will serve. The color of the candles is irrelevant, except the Christ candle in the center -which I haven't added yet- should be white.

I have never found the time of preparation for Christmas to be stressful as some seem to, and I've always enjoyed a bit of the hustle and bustle that goes with this season, so my reasons for joining this movement have nothing to do with a reaction to commercialization or secular concerns. I'm interested in exploring this older tradition of a longer Advent as an end in itself, as a way of deepening my experience of Advent.

You can read another person's reasoning for this practice in this article from last year in The Atlantic. It begins, "Reclaiming the Calm of Christmas by Expanding Advent, By celebrating for nearly two months, one family basks in the season’s peacefulness, rather than its frenzy," and goes on to explain,
For the last two years my family has been observing Advent, the season when Christians celebrate Jesus’s birth and await his second coming, for three additional Sundays; instead of starting in December, we start in early November. This puts our family’s emphasis on the sense of expectation that defines Advent, and less so on the letters to Santa and mountains of presents that attend Christmas.
I'm finding an expanded Advent to be helpful in my personal devotions.




22 comments:

  1. thank you for sharing this post-growing up we always had an advent wreath Mom used light purple candles and the white in the center. My husband is Jewish grew up with orthodox for a couple years I set up both but he said he didn't want to do his any more-a few years later I stopped-my excuse was I worked so many hours in a week and I was working soooo much, but that was no reason really to stop. thank you for the links I am off to read them

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I grew up with an Advent wreath, too, one of those simple brass rings, and we'd use a pamphlet with short devotions at the supper table. As it turns out this year, I've been lighting the candle in the morning and just saying the O Antiphon and that one simple prayer (the one-sentence collect) found in one of those guides. It'll change by the week. This is a shorter devotion each day than what I was used to, but it's working for me.

      Delete
  2. I never knew that Advent came from a longer tradition than 4 weeks. And only knew the candle colors to be 3 purple and 1 pink

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The 3 purple and 1 pink "thing" is a Catholic tradition that just got imported. The 4 week practice has been going on a long time, but it wasn't the first observance.

      Delete
  3. What a wonderful idea to practice some of the older traditions at Christmastime! I think people often forget the true meaning of Christmas, there is so much more to it than just exchanging gifts 😀. Thanks for sharing this interesting tradition and wishing you a Happy Friday and Weekend! Hugs, Jo x

    ReplyDelete
  4. OMGosh. I have one of those 7 candle advent wreaths in my Christmas stash. I had NO idea what it meant or was for. I'm so glad you explained it. I only wish I had time to participate this year, but I am simply too far behind to even think about digging through my Christmas goodies to do it this year. I think this is a wonderful tradition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cool! I had never heard of it before, but it's adding a lot to my observance :)

      Delete
  5. How interesting. We are used to the 4 weeks, but 6 weeks sounds good too, especially as it puts more focus on the spiritual meaning of Christmas.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Hugs,
    Lisca

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it feels almost like we're co-opting the secular hijacking ;)

      Delete
  6. Most people have Advent wreaths here, but always just for 4 candles. Enjoy your celebrations! Valerie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the 4-week wreath is all I'd ever heard of.

      Delete
  7. Wow, I didn't know they shorted Advent back in time. Hmmmm... I like this idea of trying to observe it the way it was done originally. I'm going to add these links to my blog, so I have them as a reference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All traditions change over time, and there was no Advent at all at first. I think traditions are best when they're adapted to suit changing times. I do love the traditions I've come to know through the years, partly because they help me feel connected to a larger community without having to actually go out and be physically there with other people ;)

      Delete
  8. Anything that takes the focus away from the commercialism is great in my book. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the hustle and bustle and pretties in the shops, but I agree that my focus shouldn't be there :)

      Delete
  9. What an interesting post! I'm always excited to start burning my advent candle. Your wreath looks beautiful. Happy Advent!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you :) I've added the white candle in the center, which makes it feel complete.

      Delete
  10. That is fascinating about advent. I guess the pre-pope days was the inspiration to all the holiday advertising. I do like your wreath. IT reminds me of the Scandinavian St Lucia head wreath. Hugs-Erika

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure exactly how and when the observance of Advent first began. I imagine it evolved gradually, as our practices continue to do. I love St. Lucia Day! I don't have Scandinavian heritage, but I adopted that holiday when the kids were little, and I still enjoy those sweet rolls and coffee :)

      Delete