Advent is the signal & symbol of the great countdown to Christmas and the choice of gifts. Traditionally, on the first Sunday of Advent, people start decorating their houses, lighting candles, buying the Christmas tree and decorating it with their families. This is a special moment that children look forward to!
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Advent has its origin in the Latin word "adventus" which means "coming" and for all Christians it corresponds to the expectation of the coming of the messiah "advents domini". Advent comes at a time of year when nature is dormant and the days are particularly short and cold. Advent, with its symbol of light, brings hope, sunshine and peace. Advent begins 4 weeks before Christmas and for Christians is the signal for the beginning of the festivities announcing Christmas. Advent is therefore a time of expectation that should encourage sharing.
This is also the time to make an Advent wreath on which it was customary to place a candle. Every Sunday in Advent, one more candle is lit. The closer the festival gets, the more light there is. The Advent wreath appeared in Germany in the 19th century. The wreath was made of green pine branches, symbol of life, tied with red ribbons and decorated with pine cones. Candles were then added to the wreath. In Sweden the wreath is reserved for Saint Lucia on 13 December. The Advent wreath can be placed on a table with candles or on a door.
The beginning of Advent is also for the little gourmets the sign of the return of the famous Advent calendar whose origin was to make children wait before Christmas by distributing pious pictures or Gospel phrases. Gradually these religious signs were replaced by figurines, then sweets, chocolates and other small toys, the Advent Calendar as we know it today no longer has much in common with the one invented by German Protestant families in the 19th century!
The 1990s also saw the return of the Christmas market, at least in terms of media coverage. First established in Germany in the 14th century, Christmas markets usually open on the first Sunday of Advent. In France, the most famous is in Strasbourg and attracts thousands of visitors every year. A real institution in Germany, Christmas markets give rise to fabulous decorations and animations that are the pride of a whole nation!