Celtic Advent takes place from November 15th. to December 24.
|From the website of the The Prayer Foundation ™
Celtic Advent / Advent in the Early (Ante-Nicene1) Church
During the time of ancient Celtic Christianity, the entire Church, both Western (including the Celtic Christians), and Eastern (the Orthodox Communions, Oriental Churches, and Eastern Rite Roman Catholics) all celebrated a longer Advent Season as a lesser Lenten fast.
It began on the same date every year on November 15th (Orthodox Churches still observe it as beginning on this day). In the early Church (and going back also through the Old Testament era) and still, currently in Orthodox and Roman Catholic practice, every day (liturgical day) officially begins at sundown of the previous date (in this case, sundown on the 14th begins the liturgical observance of the 15th of November).
Observance of Advent appears to have taken place since the 4th Century (300's A.D.) Like Lent, it originally was a season when new Christians studied in preparation for being baptized. In the early Middle Ages Advent was the Season of preparing oneself for the Second Coming of Christ. It was a season of repentance and dedication to prayer.
Advent seems to have been a result of the observance of the Celtic monks in Gaul, which was taken and combined with a similar three to six-week period of fasting that had been observed in the city of Rome before Christmas (remember, France was still known by the Roman name of "Gaul" in this era, and was still a Celtic country at this time--this was even before St. Patrick converted Ireland---and there were as yet no Irish Celtic monks!).
The Gallic fast (in modern-day northern France) began at sundown after the celebration of the Feast Day (Nov. 11th) of Martin of Tours, a Roman Cavalry officer who became a Christian and founded the first monastery in Gaul (modern-day France).
Combining the Gallic and Roman Fasts (with its later adoption by the Eastern Sees) resulted in Advent being observed universally among Christians from Nov. 15th until sundown when Christmas Eve begins. Advent began (and still so begins in the Eastern Church) on sundown of the Feast Day of the Apostle Philip (Nov. 14th)---this is why Eastern Orthodox sometimes refer to the Advent Season as "St. Philip's Fast", or even "the Philippian Fast").
It was celebrated in common first by Celtic Christians and by Rome, and later adopted by the Eastern Christians (the Bishop of Rome and the Orthodox Bishops and Patriarchs had not yet separated into two different Communions---the Great Schism would not take place until many centuries later, in 1054).
We here at The Prayer Foundation ™, in common with some other individual Protestants (and some individual Roman Catholics, as well) have decided to observe the longer "Celtic Advent" Season. We do not, of course, require this observance of anyone else.
With the secular world beginning their secular celebration of "secular Christmas" earlier and earlier (we noticed Christmas lights already on sale this year in some stores two weeks before Halloween), celebrating "Celtic Advent" is a way of extending a more spiritual observance of the true "Holy-day" season. A way of "putting Christ back into Christmas" for an additional two more weeks.
We are dedicating the "extra" two weeks of the ancient Advent observance to the original emphasis of preparation in repentance and prayer in celebration of Christ's Second Coming and will continue with the following four weeks emphasizing preparation for the celebration of Christ's First Coming, His birth in Bethlehem.
If one is fasting, as we will be, remember that in the Celtic tradition, Sundays (The Lord's Day) are exempt, as are Feast Days, and in the U.S., the wonderful "Feast Day" of the Holiday of Thanksgiving (to God) is observed during Celtic Advent (see additional comments regarding fasting in the column to the right).
Our celebration of the entire Advent Season, observing it in honor of, and in the worship of our Lord, will stand as a testimony to Christ and His love. The Season of Advent itself stands with the true Christmas Season over and against the secular "X-mas" season. The secular holiday is devoted to the celebration and observance of materialism and consumerism. It observes its annual "advent" of "Santa Claus". Not, of course, the real Christian St. Nicholas, but a badly caricatured counterfeit of him. The secular holiday is often accompanied by a total rejection of Christ.
It is a joyless time of extreme loneliness and striving for many poor souls without hope in this world or the next; those without the personal knowledge of Jesus Christ. A time when suicides increase dramatically. How important it is then to manifest the Lord in our daily lives, and to introduce Him to those who do not yet know Him!
1 Christianity in the ante-Nicene period was the time in Christian history up to the First Council of Nicaea. This article covers the period following the Apostolic Age of the first century, c. 100 AD, to Nicaea in 325 AD. The second and third centuries saw a sharp divorce of Christianity from its early roots.