Mollie Hemingway has written (way back in October) a piece in the Federalist about what she calls “The War on Advent.” Besides having the makings of a holiday classic, it makes a fine introduction to this all-but-forgotten season.
From Mollie Hemingway, Forget The War On Christmas, The War On Advent Is Worse, in The Federalist:
You’re familiar with “The War on Christmas,” where we get upset that people turn what is clearly a religious holy day celebrated by the vast majority of the people in the country into a generic “holiday” season where the worst thing you can do is publicly speak the name of the holiday that almost everyone is celebrating. I agree that we should be free to say, you know, “Merry Christmas” or invite people to a Christmas party without being hauled in front of our municipality’s human rights tribunal. Desacralizing religious symbols and holidays to appease a never-satisfied progressive mob is a great way to destroy any joy or meaning associated with Christmas and pretty much everything else in life. The silliest way we “War on Christmas” is in public schools, where we sing songs about every religion’s seasonal holiday — some of which don’t even take place any time near Dec. 25, and then refuse to sing any of the gazillion awesome religious songs about Christmas.
But what about the War on Advent? This is the war that really perturbs those of us who are liturgical Christians.
Let’s cover the basics. Christmas is one of Christianity’s most well known seasons. It begins — note, it begins — on Dec. 25 and lasts 12 days. Perhaps you have heard of the 12 Days of Christmas? That would be referring to the 12-day season of Christmas, which begins on Dec. 25, the Nativity of our Lord. Advent is the season directly preceding Christmas. It’s a period of preparation and prayerful contemplation. Advent begins on the Sunday nearest November 30, which is the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle, and covers four Sundays. The length of each Advent season can and does vary slightly. The hymns of preparation for this season are just wonderful — possibly the best of the church year — and include the Great O Antiphons, “Lo He Comes With Clouds Descending,” “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came,” “Savior of the Nations, Come” and many, many more.
Even though Advent is marked in this country by millions of Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians and many other Christians, it’s almost invisible in media coverage and cultural celebrations. And Christmas, in this country, “ends” on the day it begins for Christians, which makes things weird. The season after Christmas, by the way, is Epiphany. A traditional time of celebration was the night before Epiphany, the 12th night of the Christmas season. Perhaps you’ve heard of the play “Twelfth Night” by Señor William Shakespeare? There you go.
So if you really want to fight on the right side of the War on Christmas, you also have to fight on the right side of the War on Advent, OK? This will require something we’re very bad at in this country: a modicum of restraint and patience.