designates the coming or second coming of Christ. See Parousia for related biblical references. The English term advent comes from a Latin word meaning “coming” and is used primarily to designate a period before Christmas during which Christians prepare for the Christmas season and reflect on the meaning of the coming of Christ. Churches in many areas began to observe this period of preparation as early as the fifth century, soon after the origin of the celebration of Christmas. Lasting up to six weeks, the period was one of both penitence and joyous anticipation. By the Middle Ages, four Sundays had become the standard length of the Advent season. Since then, Advent has been considered to be the beginning of the church year. See Church Year.
Advent may also refer to the second coming or second advent of Christ. See Parousia; Second Coming.
Fred A. Grissom