I’d never really thought about the word Advent before I moved to Austria. Apart from the good old Advent calendar, it never occurred to me this was anything more than a commercialisation of the lead up to Christmas. Which, it kind of is, but as it turns out, starting on the Sunday nearest to the 30th of November, Advent signifies the beginning of spiritual preparation for Christmas.
Or for those of you like me who don’t participate so much in the spiritual side of things, it’s the time to realise oh damn I haven’t bought Christmas presents yet or written my cards or gotten my life together. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas, so when you hit it, you know there are less than five weeks to go. And… fun fact… since the date changes every year, for commercial purposes Advent calendars simply start on the 1st of December.
So forgive my limited religious knowledge, but I initially thought that the Advent wreath, and the lighting of the candles was an Austrian thing. Obviously it’s not, but it’s definitely more widespread here than in Australia (at least in my circles). On each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, one of the four candles is lit, until in the last week, all four are burning. Each candle has special significance… and you’re welcome to google if you want to know more.
Even though I’m not really so into religion or Christmas, I like the tradition of lighting the candles. Like the Advent calendar, it incites a little bit of excitement that Christmas is just around the corner. And here in Austria for me, that means, time for family, cuddling up away from the cold weather, and of course… food!