At just after 10:45 a.m. Eastern standard Time ~ above Wednesday, September 26, brother DJ Scott Mills played BBC Radio 1's an initial Christmas tune of this year. Review that sentence again. We're much less than a week right into fall, and this guy forced his entire audience to hear to Mariah Carey's "All I desire for Christmas is You," because that the an initial of, what, dozens of time to come? maybe hundreds, depending upon how regularly you're exposed to Love Actually?

I'll admit that i didn't hate it-hate it—as Christmas songs go, the one slaps—but it was just an early-season reminder that the holidays are about to be required on us, hard. Some big-box retailers have already put part decorations on your shelves and my very own inbox has currently been hit v a dozen-plus emails promoting holiday parties, food and also cocktail recipes, and this year's assortment that specialty arrival calendars, the people filled with miniature party of booze, or cheese, or chocolate (or coffee, or jerky or…)

But since we're tho 90 days indigenous Christmas, this is a great time to remind everyone—especially those of united state who will eat our means through December—that there's a difference between arrival and the 12 days of Christmas. If your arrival calendar just has actually a dozen doors, it's doing the holidays wrong.

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Advent—a word the we borrowed from the Latin term for 'arrival'—is a four-week duration that, because that Christians, counts down till the come of Jesus Christ. No one is 100% sure as soon as they began this end-of-the-year countdown, but circa-5th-century monks started fasting in late November, no in preparation for Christmas, but for the arrival of Epiphany. (More on that in a sec.) A century later, Christians started associating development with Jesus, however they used the time duration to consider his 2nd coming; the wasn't till the Middle eras that development was connected with anticipation that Christmas and also the bear of Christ.

"Advent is a season of preparation—it actually mirrors Lent in some ways, yet it’s much less intense ~ above the repentance and also fasting," Rev. Buy it Howell-Miller, a united Methodist pastor, told Food & Wine. "In Advent, the church remembers not just Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem but likewise the exile that Israel and also the ancient Jews waiting for the arrival of the Messiah. Whereby I see real value in the exercise of observing development as preparation is in the potential for solidarity with people in various kinds of exile and also anticipation today."

For the modern-day Christian church, advent begins on advent Sunday, i beg your pardon is the 4th Sunday prior to Christmas. Because December 25 falls on a various day the the week every year, the dates of development can transition too; this year, arrival begins top top Sunday, December 1.

For more secular, purely celebratory purposes, introduction begins top top December 1 and stretches through Christmas. That renders a "standard" advent calendar a tiny easier to follow, to reuse and, that course, to sell. (It's precious noting the the an initial advent calendars v a tiny piece of coco tucked behind every door were marketed by Cadbury in 1958).

"In a lot of places, development either doesn’t exist—it gets overshadowed by Christmas beginning the job after Halloween—or is usually the countdown to Santa. I additionally think it’s funny that arrival calendars often include 24 or 25 days, once the actual number of days in arrival varies year to year," Howell-Miller said. "I guess: v if you have extra candy or jerky or whatever at the end of Advent, then Merry Christmas indeed, but if you operation out because, choose in 2016, arrival can it is in 28 job long, well…that sucks."



By contrast, the Twelve days of Christmas aren't a holiday countdown—in fact, that time duration doesn't even start till Christmas, and it stretches till Epiphany ~ above January 6. Christians consider this to it is in the day the the trio that Magi rolled up to the manger, moving their (slightly age-inappropriate) royal gifts for a newborn. And, together both spiritual scholars and also theater majors will certainly mention, Epiphany can additionally be referred to as "Twelfth Night." (Depending on the church, sometimes Twelfth Night and its linked celebrations are observed top top January 5.) The suggest being, those 12 days mark an entirely various advent, if friend will, come a different arrival.

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So no, the two terms aren't interchangeable. If her so-called "advent" calendar only has a dozen small doors, then technically friend shouldn't begin opening it until Christmas Day, because technically it's one Epiphany countdown calendar. ~ above the shining side, that way that also though the remainder of the presents have every been unwrapped, you'll have actually 12 much more days come celebrate through miniature bottles of booze, or cheese, or chocolate, (or coffee, or jerky, or…).