Advent Customs

In many cultures, it is a common practice to mark a special Advent observance in order to better prepare oneself spiritually for the birth of our Saviour at Christmas. Many of these observances begin in the final nine days of Advent.

Catholics Worldwide

In Catholic prayer tradition, the recitation of the O Antiphons begins on December 17 and concludes on December 23, with a different antiphon being recited each day. These antiphons are found in the Liturgy of the Hours, which are the daily prayer used by the Church. They are sung either before or after the Magnificat, which itself is sung during Vespers (evening prayer).


They are called O Antiphons because each begins with the letter-word O. Each antiphon is a name or title of Christ, one of His attributes mentioned in Scripture.


December 17 O Sapientia (O Wisdom)

December 18 O Adonai (O Lord)

December 19 O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)

December 20 O Clavis David (O Key of David)

December 21 O Oriens (O Dayspring)

December 22 O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)

December 23 O Emmanuel (O With us is God)

Visit each day for a beautiful reflective prayer on the O Antiphon of the day.


The Philippines

In the Philippines, Christmas is preceded by a novena of dawn Masses called  Simbang Gabi (Night Mass) in Filipino or Missa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster) in Spanish. This series of nine Masses begins on December 16 and continues until December 24. These Masses are all held before dawn, sometimes beginning as early as three o’clock in the morning, which explains the reference to both night and roosters! Attendance at these Masses is meant to show the believer’s devotion to God as well as to heighten the anticipation for the approaching Nativity of Jesus. It is popularly believed that the completion of this novena will also see the granting by God of a special prayer made by the devotee. Following the Masses, attendees eat traditional holiday breakfast food, which is frequently sold by vendors outside the Church or which may be prepared for the family at home.