Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. (In 2013, this’d be 1 December.) Advent Sunday is the first day of the Christian calendar. The secular calendar begins on 1 January; we begin with the Christmas season.
All most people know about Advent is the Advent calendar: The 25-day countdown till Christmas, with little chocolates hidden behind each day. Unless they’re the sucky calendars, which give you hard candies or tiny plastic toys instead. A friend of mine is going with bottles of wine. Clearly that’s not for kids.
Adventus is the Latin word, and parusía the Greek word, for “coming.” In the New Testament it usually refers to Jesus’s second coming. Well, during Advent we celebrate of course Jesus’s first coming, at Christmas; we recognize how we live between the first and second comings; and we look forward to the second, when Jesus will personally return to take over the world.