Many Christians in Canada celebrate the beginning of the Advent season on the first Sunday of Advent. It marks the start of the Christian year in western Christianity. Its length varies from 22 to 28 days, starting on Sunday nearest St Andrew’s Day and encompassing the next three Sundays, ending on Christmas Day.
Is First Sunday of Advent a Public Holiday?
The first Sunday of Advent is not a public holiday. It falls on Sunday, November 28, 2021, and most businesses follow regular Sunday opening hours in Canada.
What Do People Do?
Many churches in Canada prepare Advent liturgies at this time of the year. In some Presbyterian churches, there is a liturgy for each Sunday of Advent, starting from the first Sunday of Advent in the lead-up to Christmas. The liturgies are used in conjunction with the lighting of Advent candles and follow the themes of hope, peace, joy and love. Other churches may organize Advent dramas or programs that may involve participation from members of the congregation.
Some farms or outlets in rural communities sell fresh Advent wreaths. Some people may purchase Advent wreaths with candles of various designs, sizes and colours. People may also present Advent gifts for children on the first day of Advent. Gifts may include Advent activity books or Advent calendars with stickers to mark each day up to Christmas Day.
The church year begins in September 1 in many eastern Christian churches, so Advent starts at a different time to when it starts in the western churches. The eastern equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast, which runs for 40 days.
The first Sunday of Advent is not a nationwide public holiday in Canada. However, churches may be busy on this day, as well as families who use the start of Advent is a time to prepare for the Christmas season.
It is uncertain as to when exactly the celebration of Advent was first introduced in the Christian church. Some sources say that Advent began on November 11 (St Martin’s Day) at some time in the fifth century in the form of a six-week fast leading to Christmas. Advent was reduced to its current length at some stage in the sixth century and the fasting was later no longer observed. Advent is originally a time to reflect and prepare for Christmas similar to how Lent is in preparation for Easter. Advent has sometimes been referred to as the Winter Lent. In recent times the restrictions that Advent brings to Christians have become more relaxed.
Purple is historically the main colour used for Advent because it reflects penitence, fasting, and the colour of royalty to welcome the Advent of the king (Jesus Christ). The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Some churches use other colours in recent times. For example, some churches mark the third Sunday of Advent with pink or rose, colours that represent joy. Many Protestant churches use blue to distinguish the Season of Advent from Lent.
Advent wreaths are symbolic of Advent in some countries. They are usually made of fir and decorated with gold and silver ribbons or scarlet woollen threads. Lit wreaths may be displayed on the table where family and friends sit while singing carols and preparing handmade gifts.