December 24, 2008
The Celtic church refers to the ancient church during the period prior to the conversion and evangelizing of Ireland by British missionairies, including St. Patrick, in the 5th century. Advent in the early Celtic church, prior to the time that the Nicene Creed was adopted was a very different observance from our modern day celebration. During the time of ancient Celtic Christianity, Western and Eastern churches observed Advent season as a lesser Lenten fast. Advent would begin on November 15th with a Mass. Converts to Christianity would use this time for atonement, to purify themselves, and to prepare for baptism. Celtic monks in Gaul, which was still a Celtic country, observed Advent. The customs of the Romans and Gauls combined during this period to include the fast which had been observed by the Romans and was anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks. It wasn’t until the 4th century (300’s A.D.) that Advent began to change from a time of fasting and atonement to a period of preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. Celtic monks also added the feast of Martin of Tours, who was a Roman cavalry officer who converted to Christianity and founded the Gaul Monasteries. the first was the Liguge monastery in 363 A.D. By the end of the 4th century, Advent was celebrated by the whole church, but it wasn’t until the 6th century that a time was set aside to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. Celtic Advent is always celebrated from November 15th until December 24th. The same applies for the Eastern Orthodox Advent, which is the time of the Nativity Fast.
For those who wish to celebrate a more holy season and a non secular Christmas, Celtic Advent provides the opportunity for reflection and contemplation about the coming of our Lord. If you are observing Celtic Advent as a Lesser Lenten Fast, it’s not actually forty days of fasting. Sundays and Feast Days aren’t counted as fasting days, and in some cases, it can mean that you are simply giving up a particular food as you would during Lent. Symbolically, it’s your rite of purification as you prepare for the Feast of the Nativity. Celtic Advent Liturgies are found on this site: