Many lose sight of Advent amid the Thanksgiving-Black Friday-anticipated Christmas-commercial season. How can Advent hold its ground against this materialistic intrusion? Some regard Advent as “Little Lent.” After all, at least where I live it wears the hand-me-down purples of the penitential weeks between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Perhaps Advent needs its own distinguishing color to express its unique role in the Liturgical Year?
What is Advent anyway? It might be considered the season of Isaiah and joyful Psalms; a time of expectation and reassurance to those who faithfully await the coming of the promised one; a tender season of resting in the arms of our loving mother. Advent emphasizes joy and anticipation, not fasting and penance.
Some Christian denominations, including Roman Catholic parishes employ blue vestments during Advent. The web page of Saint James Episcopal Church of Richmond, Virginia explains this choice:
“Following the tradition of the Sarum Rite (an old English rite), Blue is the color for Advent. During the Middle Ages, when blue was an expensive color to reproduce, purple was often used instead. This is why you still see some churches using purple in Advent. Also, purple was used by churches that followed the Roman rite as opposed to the Sarum Rite. Theologically, however, blue is the proper color for this season, because Blue is the color of the Blessed Virgin, and Advent is all about Mary as we await with her the arrival of the Incarnate God. Blue is the color of hope, expectation, confidence, and anticipation. These are all adjectives which describe the season of Advent.”
Indeed Advent has a Marian flavor. It includes the feast of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe. It presupposes the cooperation of Mary in the incarnation and the nativity. So blue, a Marian color would fit the season.
Here in the North Temperate Zone, Advent coincides with the longest and darkest (and sometimes coldest) nights of the year. As darkness replaces light some humans suffer depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder). A sure cure for SAD is light, celebration, and a promise of better days. Again, dark blue skies connect with the theme of Advent. From those heavens comes the brightest and warmest of all gifts–the greatest reason to shed SAD in favor of JOY.
May the building joy of the Advent season culminate in your most glorious Christmas, ever!
How do you separate the spirit of Advent from the Christmas rush?
In what special ways do you observe Advent’s joyous season of expectation?
Do you believe that the color (purple, blue or __________) of vestments’ would underscore Advent’s unique place in the Liturgical Calendar?
Text-(© 2013 Donald J. Mulcare)
Winter/alcohol ink on yupo(© 2013 Nancy Ann Mulcare)