The complete guide to Advent 2023

November 15, 2023

With Christmas and the new year just around the corner, we know your team is hard at work to prepare powerful content that proclaims the gospel and brings your community together. The Advent season provides an important opportunity to build anticipation as the celebration of Christ’s birth nears. 

What is Advent?

Much like Lent, Advent is a time of waiting, preparation, and penance that has been a tradition since around 567 A.D. 

The term Advent comes from the Latin adventus meaning “a coming or arrival.” It’s a season marked by hope and joy as we prepare for Christmas—the arrival of Jesus.

When does Advent 2023 start?

The season of Advent takes place during the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day and always ends on Christmas Eve. Advent 2023 begins on Sunday, December 3, and comes to a close on Sunday, December 24. 

What is an Advent calendar?

An Advent calendar is used to mark every day of Advent leading up to Christmas. These often have a symbol, prompt, or gift for each day that is gradually revealed as Christmas approaches.

Today, many secular Advent calendars are filled with candy, toys, and other items unrelated to the nativity of Jesus. However, a Christian Advent calendar might include Bible verses, prayer prompts, or symbols that point back to the real meaning of the season and encourage spiritual preparation. 

What are the four Advent Sundays?

The Advent season always begins on a Sunday and includes the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Many churches use special candles to represent the four Advent Sundays. For example, a common variation is: 

  • The First Sunday of Advent marks the start of a new liturgical year. It is one of hope and uses a purple candle, also known as the “Prophecy Candle,” to symbolize royalty. It calls back to the prophets of Israel who foretold the birth of Christ. The First Sunday of Advent is on December 3, 2023.
  • The Second Sunday of Advent represents the faith of Mary's and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It, too, uses a purple candle called the “Bethlehem Candle” to symbolize the preparation for the coming of the Messiah. The Second Sunday of Advent is on December 10, 2023.
  • The Third Sunday of Advent is one of joy and is marked by a pink "Shepherd’s Candle." We are to rejoice in anticipation just like the shepherds who journeyed to see Jesus. The Third Sunday of Advent is on December 17, 2023.
  • The Fourth Sunday of Advent represents peace. The "Angel’s Candle” is purple and acts as a reminder of the angels and their message of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” The Fourth Sunday of Advent is on December 24, 2023.

Get more holiday inspiration this year

Advent is a profound time of year to spiritually prepare for Christmas, honor the birth of Christ, and spread the good news of the gospel. We’re honored to partner with over 16,000 churches and organizations during this season and beyond to increase engagement, expand your reach, and make more disciples!

Be sure to check out these free resources for your church to make a bigger impact this holiday season!

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