How did Advent start?

Since You Asked
How did Advent start?
 
Q How did Advent start?  
- John
 
A

Dear John,

I turned to the Catholic Encyclopedia for an answer (since I wasn't around to SEE how Advent started!). You may find it surprising (as I did) that it took awhile for Christmas to be celebrated through the entire Church. And it wasn't until after that happened that Advent was a consideration at all.

It was in the 9th century that Advent became the beginning of the Church year (which is, of course, different from the beginning of the calendar year). Way before that, in the year 380, a Church Council declared that there be a three-week fast before the Feast of Epiphany, which is closely related to Christmas. That date was December 17. Later that was pushed back to November. In Rome, the Liturgical season of Advent (which is a little different from the custom of a fast, which doesn't happen IN Church) was first observed toward the end of the 6th century.

So, in a nutshell, Advent appears to have begun after Christmas was lifted up to Christians as a feast to be celebrated (You know that Easter is the BIG event of Church history and teaching, not Christmas. Once, however, we begin to consider the Glory of Easter, we also like to celebrate all the events that led up to the Resurrection. That includes, of course, the birth of the person who later rose to save us.)

- Carol Ann