The many feasts during Advent

Although the four weeks of Advent focus on waiting for Christmas, the Church does not just sit around and wait for the main event.

It celebrates plenty of major feasts with lots of customs, traditions, and even special foods during the month of December.

St. Nicholas

Early in the Advent season, Dec. 6, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Nicholas, a 4th-century bishop from the region of modern-day Turkey well known for his generosity. The day has customs similar to Christmas, but with variations: Instead of gifts placed in stockings or under the tree, they are placed in children’s shoes left outside their bedroom door the previous night.

The day is celebrated differently around the world and particularly emphasized in Eastern Europe, but in the United States, it is primarily focused on the shoe custom with an added emphasis on doing good things for others.

The St. Nicholas Center in Holland, Michigan, sponsors a traveling St. Nicholas exhibit and also has lots of information on its website on the history of the feast day, ways to celebrate, and the distinction between Santa Claus and St. Nicholas.

Immaculate Conception

Two days after the feast of St. Nicholas, the Church celebrates the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the patroness of the United States. The feast is a holy day of obligation celebrating the belief that Mary was without sin from the moment she was conceived.

The day itself does not have anything to do with Advent, but was chosen as the date nine months from the date the Church celebrates Mary’s birth, Sept. 8.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

The other Marian feast in December is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 12, which commemorates Mary’s appearance to St. Juan Diego in 1531 at Tepayac, a hill northwest of modern-day Mexico City. Continue reading

Source and Image

  • Crux, from an article by Carol Zimmermann.


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