The Church Year begins with Advent, a season leading up to the Nativity of Jesus (Christmas) in the Western Church. Since medieval times, the day’s main reading tells of Jesus riding into Jerusalem. The Bible says Jesus did not arrive in the manner of earthly princes, but humbly, on a donkey. In this way, his coming fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy in the Book of Zecharia that a king would come in peace. Another reference to that is the old Latin name of the First Sunday of Advent, Adventus humiliationis or Advent of Humility.
The day’s Gospel reading links Advent and Christmas with the events of Palm Sunday and Easter, which from the outset puts Easter at the centre of the Christian Church Year. Christians see the meaning of Christmas in relation to the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ.
On the First Sunday of Advent, the Lutheran church begins its Advent fast, although the fasting tradition is not very strong among Lutherans of today. Orthodox Christians prepare for Christmas with a 40-day fast.