The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. It is thought that during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1), his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (John 1:29), and his first miracle at Cana (John 2:1). By the 6th century Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world. It was not until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas.
Advent is the four-week period that starts on November 27th (or the first Sunday after that date) and lasts until sunset Christmas Eve. Advent is a time of preparation, anticipation, and waiting with a double-focus: looking back to Jesus' birth and forward to His Second Coming.