Thursday, October 21, 2010
The end is near.
It cannot be determined with any degree of certainty when the celebration of Advent was first introduced into the Church. The preparation for the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord was not held before the feast itself existed.
One of the earliest references to Christmas being celebrated on December 25 appeared in Antioch in the middle of the second century. At that time, Christians were still persecuted. An official determination was made in the fourth century, when the Roman emperor Constantine embraced Christianity, thereby ensuring the legality of Christmas celebrations. The Council of Tours in 567 established the period of Advent as a time of fasting before Christmas. They also proclaimed the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany a sacred, festive season.