At one time, the season was celebrated very differently, and the difference is sobering. Far from the indulgence starting even before Thanksgiving, Advent (beginning at the end of November) was celebrated as a mini-Lent, a season of sober reflection and penitence in preparation for Christmas.
We have all done things of which we are ashamed and ought to recognize as worthy of judgment. Even today, among traditional Catholics and many other traditional Christian groups, abstinence is encouraged during Advent. Pope Innocent III (1198--1216) stated that
... black was the colour to be used during Advent, but violet had already come into use for this season at the end of the thirteenth century. Binterim says that there was also a law that pictures should be covered during Advent. Flowers and relics of Saints are not to be placed on the altars during the Office and Masses of this time, except on the third Sunday; and the same prohibition and exception exist in regard to the use of the organ.If you love chocolates and give them up for the four weeks of Advent, you will hardly be disgusted by the sight or smell of them on Christmas morning! More.
Denyse O’Leary is a journalist, author, and blogger, and co-author of The Spiritual Brain.