This star drew nigh to the northwest
O'er Bethlehem it took its rest
And there it did both pause and stay
Right o'er the place where Jesus lay
Noël, Noël, Noël, Noël
Born is the King of Israel!

Then entered in those Wise men
three
Full reverently upon their knee
And offered there in His presence
Their gold and myrrh and
frankincense
Noël, Noël, Noël, Noël
Born is the King of Israel!

Hail the heaven-born Prince of
Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"
The first Noel, the angels did say
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter's night that was so deep
Noël, Noël, Noël, Noël
Born is the King of Israel!

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the East beyond them far
And to the earth it gave great light
And so it continued both day and night
Noël, Noël, Noël, Noël
Born is the King of Israel!

And by the light of that same star
Three Wise men came from country far
To seek for a King was their intent
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noël, Noël, Noël, Noël
Born is the King of Israel!
For most Christians, the Christmas season begins on the Sunday nearest November 30th.
This date is the feast day of Saint Andrew, one of the twelve apostles of Christ.  The nearest
Sunday is the first day of Advent, a four-week period during which Christians prepare for the
celebration of Christmas.  The word
advent, from Latin, means "the coming", and refers to the
coming of Jesus on Christmas Day. In the year 2012, Advent season will be observed beginning
December 2nd.

Advent has probably been observed since the fourth century.  Originally, it was a time when
Christian converts readied themselves for baptism.  During the Middle Ages, Advent became
associated with preparation for the Second Coming of Christ.

In early days, Advent lasted from November 11, the feast of St. Martin, until Christmas Day.
Advent was considered a pre-Christmas season of Lent when Christians devoted themselves to
prayer and fasting. The Orthodox Eastern Church observes a similar Lenten season, from
November 15 until Christmas, rather than Advent.  Many Christians still view Advent as a season
to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus.

Many Christians have an
Advent wreath in their homes during the holiday season.  Most of
these wreaths are made of evergreen or holly branches and may lie on a table or hang on a door.
The circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no
beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope we have in God, the hope of
renewal and eternal life.

Four candles, one for each Sunday of Advent, are placed among the branches, and symbolize
the four centuries
of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.

Three candles are dark purple. Some churches and families use royal blue candles in place of
purple, as royal blue can also signify royalty.  Purple, however is the traditional color for the
season of Advent.  Purple was the most expensive dye in ancient times and was used by kings
to indicate their royalty.  Purple also signifies the repentance and patience of God's people as
they await the arrival of their Lord.

The story of the
Advent is symbolized in the lighting of each candle; from Christ's First Advent
(Coming), to His awaited Second Advent (Coming). These truths can be represented in a variety
of teachings from the Bible, and represented on the Advent wreath, as well as marked for
scripture readings and prayers during the lighting. Because Advent wreaths are an informal
celebration, not all are the same. The exact meaning given to the various aspects of the wreath is
not as important as the story it tells.

A purple candle is lighted the first, second, and fourth Sunday of Advent, and typically symbolizes
Hope, Peace, and Love.  
The pink candle is reserved for the third Sunday of Advent and
symbolizes Joy. In addition to the four Advent candles, most Advent wreaths also have a larger,
white candle in the center called the Christ candle. This candle is either lighted on Christmas
Eve or Day, or both, and represents the First Advent of Christ, His Birth.

In many countries, people use special
Advent calendars or Advent candles to keep track of the
24 days before Christmas. An Advent calendar has a colorful Christmas scene, and each date is
printed on a flap. One flap is lifted daily to uncover a holiday picture or a Biblical verse. On an
Advent candle, the dates appear in a row down the side. Each evening, the candle is lit and then
burned down to the next date. By Christmas Day, the entire candle has melted.

For many Christians, the Christmas season reaches a climax at midnight Mass or other religious
services on Christmas Eve.
Churches are decorated with candles, lights, evergreen branches,
and bright red poinsettias. People
sing Christmas carols and listen to readings from the
Gospels of Saint Luke and Saint Matthew
. Priests and ministers speak to the congregations
about the coming of Christ and the need for peace and understanding among all people.

The Christmas season ends on
Epiphany, January 6. In Western Christian churches, Epiphany
celebrates the coming of the Wise Men to the Christ child. Among Eastern Christians, this day
celebrates Jesus' baptism. Epiphany falls on the 12th day after Christmas. The song
"The
Twelve Days of Christmas" refers to the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany
.
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