Gaudete Sunday: Meaning and Symbolism

Impatience taught me my very first Latin word.

Christmas lights

As a child, the moment Advent began I would pester my father to hang our Christmas lights, even though I knew that, yet again, we would be the last house on the block to put up our lights.

Every year, Dad’s answer was firm. There would be no Christmas decorating at our house until Gaudete Sunday.

Advent, he’d remind me, is a period of waiting and preparing. But Gaudete Sunday marked a turning point. Midway through Advent, it meant the long wait for the Christ Child would soon be over. The very name of the day—Gaudete—told us to rejoice because Christmas was now near.

And so I watched impatiently for the Third Sunday of Advent, with its rose vestments and the rose candle in the Advent wreath heralding that pre-Christmas rejoicing.

As a child, the wait seemed unbearable. Today, however, I am grateful for my father’s desire to help us understand the rhythm of Advent.  Rather than rush the season, Dad understood the value of taking time to prepare. I’ll be thinking of him this afternoon as I’m out with my family, putting up our Christmas lights.

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