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First Sunday of Advent in Australia

Many Christian churches in Australia, particularly Catholic churches, celebrate the start of the Advent season on the First Sunday of Advent. Its length varies from 22 to 28 days, starting on the Sunday nearest St Andrew’s Day and encompassing the next three Sundays, ending on Christmas Day.

Is First Sunday of Advent a Public Holiday?

First Sunday of Advent is not a public holiday. It falls on Sunday, December 1, 2019 and most businesses follow regular Sunday opening hours in Australia.

Advent candles and wreaths are used in many Christian churches during the Advent season.

©iStockphoto.com/Jasmin Awad

What Do People Do?

Many churches in Australia mark the First Sunday of Advent as the start of the Christian year in western Christianity. It is important to note that whilst many churches in Australia that mark the First Sunday of Advent are Catholic churches, it is not an observance exclusive to Catholics. For example, churches such as the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in South Australia also mark the First Sunday of Advent and celebrate it.

Advent is a period of reflection, repentance and belief in Jesus Christ. Some churches have special musical celebrations held on the First Sunday of Advent. The church year begins in September 1 in many eastern Christian churches, so Advent starts at a different time to when it starts in the western churches. The eastern equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast, which runs for 40 days.

Public Life

The first Sunday of Advent is not a nationwide public holiday in Australia. However, many churches may be busy on this day, as well as those who observe the start of Advent as a time to prepare for the Christmas season.

Background

It is uncertain as to when exactly the celebration of Advent was first introduced in the Christian church. Some sources say that Advent began on November 11 (St Martin's Day) at some time in the fifth century in the form of a six-week fast leading to Christmas. Advent was reduced to its current length at some stage in the sixth century and the fasting was later no longer observed.

Advent is originally a time to reflect and prepare for Christmas similarly to how Lent is in preparation for Easter. Advent has sometimes been referred to as the Winter Lent.  The restrictions that Advent brings to Christians have become more relaxed in recent times. The term “Advent” derives from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming” or “arrival”. It refers to the period immediately before Christmas, during which time one might prepare for the symbolic birth of Christ each year.

Symbols

Purple is historically the main color used for Advent because it reflects penitence, fasting, and the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the king (Jesus Christ). The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his first Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his second Advent. Some churches use other colors in recent times. For example, some churches mark the third Sunday of Advent with pink or rose, colors that represent joy. Many Protestant churches use blue to distinguish the Season of Advent from Lent.

Advent wreaths are symbolic of Advent. They are usually made of fir or pine cones and decorated with gold and silver ribbons or scarlet woolen threads. Lit wreaths may be displayed on the table where family and friends sit while singing carols and preparing handmade gifts. Artificial wreaths are also popular if fir or pine cones are not available in some parts of Australia.

About First Sunday of Advent in other countries

Read more about First Sunday of Advent.

First Sunday of Advent Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2015SunNov 29First Sunday of AdventObservance
2016SunNov 27First Sunday of AdventObservance
2017SunDec 3First Sunday of AdventObservance
2018SunDec 2First Sunday of AdventObservance
2019SunDec 1First Sunday of AdventObservance
2020SunNov 29First Sunday of AdventObservance
2021SunNov 28First Sunday of AdventObservance
2022SunNov 27First Sunday of AdventObservance
2023SunDec 3First Sunday of AdventObservance
2024SunDec 1First Sunday of AdventObservance
2025SunNov 30First Sunday of AdventObservance

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