Originally published on Catholic Stand

Excitement is in the air as the “holiday season” begins. Around the same time as the reunions and feasts of Thanksgiving, Christmas lights begin to appear on houses. In many stores, similar lights and decorations have probably been in place since before Halloween, marketing Christmas-themed products within.

Of course, this is to be expected. People naturally become excited for festive occasions long in advance, and the commercial world regards these holidays as financial opportunities to be seized before the day arrives. Most people in our culture have no reason not to begin their Christmas celebration right after Thanksgiving.

On the other hand, there is something strange about seeing Catholics beginning their celebration of Christmas as much as a month in advance. This practice essentially skips over the four weeks of Advent, the period of preparation for the great holy day.

Given this occurrence, before any discussion of what’s better to do in December, perhaps it would be helpful to explore what exactly Advent is and why the Church has given us this tradition.

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