Advent season starts, anticipating the birth of Jesus
Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas. Advent, which is marked by the four Sundays before that day, is celebrated mainly in traditional churches, especially Episcopal, Lutheran and Roman Catholic.
The season’s central symbol, the Advent wreath, is a leafy horizontal circle with four candles, a new one lighted each Sunday. Each church lights a large wreath, and many homes of the faithful often have smaller versions. Although the custom originated in western Europe, some Hispanic Catholic parishes have adopted the wreath as well.
Another Advent custom is the Jesse Tree, often decorated by children in church schools. The tree is draped with homemade representations of biblical prophecies — scrolls, the Lion of Judah, seraphim, David’s harp and other symbols — believed by Christians to have foretold Jesus’ life.
— JAMES D. DAVIS