Word of the Day


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in the Christian religion, the four-week period before Christmas Day

Origin and usage

The word Advent is as old as the English language itself. Borrowed from either Latin or French, it comes ultimately from the classical Latin word ‘adventus’, meaning approach or arrival.


In the Christian church Advent is the period before Christmas during which Christians think about and celebrate the  birth of Christ. In the Western church Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas, while in the Orthodox church the period starts earlier, in November. In many churches and homes a large candle is burned a little at a time to mark the passage of the days and weeks of Advent up to Christmas Day. 

An Advent calendar is a picture, usually of a Christmas scene, with a series of 24 hidden pictures behind it. Children open one part of the main picture to see one of the hidden pictures each day from December 1 to December 24. Until a few decades ago Advent calendars were just that, pictures with little windows that you opened each day to find a tiny image of a tree, a reindeer, or a star. Then someone had the bright idea of making Advent calendars with a chocolate behind each window. Now that concept has been extended and you can get Advent calendars containing a range of edible treats including jams, cheeses, teas, coffees, even gin, while those who prefer non-edible treats can go for beauty products, toys or other gifts.


“Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent; one waits, hopes, and does this, that, or the other – things that are of no real consequence – the door is shut, and can be opened only from the outside.”
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Related words

the Annunciation, Christmas, Epiphany

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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