- Advent started several hundred years after Christ was born (I originally thought it was a Jewish holiday, you know, like how Lent is Jewish--okay, so I've learned a lot about this!--and I know Hanukkah is the Jewish Christmas, I just thought Advent was in there somewhere too).
- At first glance, Advent should be celebrated by Christians worldwide! It focuses on Christ's birth and the anticipation of His second coming.
- Bible verses are a big part of Advent.
After doing a lengthy-for-me internet search, however, I came across several suspicious descriptions of Advent.
- Candles are lit gradually (on the wreath, one candle is lit every Sunday for 4 Sundays) to symbolize the gradual coming again of Jesus. Gradual coming again? When He comes, it will be instantaneous!
- The determining factor for which Sunday to start Advent is which Sunday is the closest to St. Andrew's Feast (Nov. 30). St. Andrew? Christians don't celebrate feasts of saints!
- The celebration of Advent extends to Lent, including Epiphany (or Three Kings' Day, celebrating when the wise men visited Jesus), Mardi Gras (originally a feast to celebrate the last day before the fasting of Lent), and Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent when sinners would put ashes on their face to symbolize their sinner-ness).
- The main focus of Advent is hope--hope that Jesus will come again. Well, we know He will come again. We hope it will be soon, but Advent is all about hoping He will come, period.
In all my research (and I'm not a very good researcher, but I try), every website I visited spoke about "Christians" celebrating Advent (and the following holidays through Lent). So I ran another quick search: "Is Catholicism a Christian Religion", and wouldn't you know, out of the ten returns, 9 basically said yes, the Catholic church is one branch of the Christian religion. One said "never!", but that website was letgodbetrue.com, and they even said that Catholicism itself claims to be "Christian". So we can't read "Christians celebrate Advent! Get your Advent wreath here!" and correctly assume they are referring to born-again, saved individuals.
I am all for teaching children about the prophesies and how they gave O.T. folks hope that a baby would be born and die for their sins. I think we should celebrate the fact that Jesus is coming again to take true Christians to Heaven. However, I have come to believe that limiting these teachings to the weeks leading up to Christmas and calling this instruction "Advent" is frighteningly similar to attending a fall festival at the end of October while claiming you don't celebrate Halloween. I know several families whose children dress up in costumes throughout the year, so they don't need to on Oct. 31. Why not take the month of May, or July, or September, and go through one prophesy a night. When a child dresses up as a Princess or Batman on January 15th, or March 9th, or August 24th, no one would even think, "That child is celebrating Halloween, just a little bit early or late." Similarly, if a family learns about prophesies via candles in September, no one would think "They are celebrating Advent."
So, my conclusion: While many aspects of Advent seem to be something that Christians should participate in (wolf in sheep's clothing?), Advent itself stems from a pagan religion (Catholicism) and like Halloween, Christians should have no part in it.