Advent (from the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming") is a season of the Christian chruch, the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus; in other words, the period immediately before Christmas .
Advent books often neglect the fact that Advent does not begin on December 1, nor does Christmastide end with the excitement of December 25. (There are four Sundays in Advent before Christmas, it usually begins in late November, and the liturgical season doesn’t officially end until Epiphany on January 6).
The theme of readings and teachings during Advent is often to prepare for the second coming while commemorating the First Coming of Christ at Christmas. With the view of directing the thoughts of Christians to the first coming of Jesus Christ as Savior, and to his second coming as Judge, special lessons are prescribed for each of the four Sundays in Advent.
Remember the song: The Twelve Days of Christmas, it starts with Christmas Day and finishes with the eve of Epiphany on 5th January. The Twelve Days of Christmas dates back to English origins in the sixteenth century although the music is reputed to be French, some say German. The first publication date for The Twelve Days of Christmas (song) was 1780.
Each of The Twelve Days of Christmas has a religious significance and are symbolized following the lyrics of The Twelve Days of Christmas
1 True Love refers to God
2 Turtle Doves refers to the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens refers to Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds refers to the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying refers to the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, etc. ~ see 1st Corinthians 12
8 Maids A-milking refers to the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing refers to the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping refers to the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping refers to the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming refers to the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed
And the last verse of the song (try not to sing it)
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree!
May you all have a Blessed Holiday Season -- Merry Christmas everyone
And don't forget to smile -- it's contagious