While many consider Christmas to be all by itself in the calendar, according to many churches the holiday is actually the fulfillment of a season of waiting.
Known as Advent, the liturgical calendar season takes place over the course of the four Sundays before Christmas, ending on Christmas Eve. In the United States, it typically begins on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
Advent has a long history stemming at least as far back as the Roman Empire, and continues to be widely observed in many denominations, such as the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and United Methodist churches.
Here are four interesting facts about Advent, which is considered the season of waiting until the miracle of the Christmas holiday. They include its shrouded origins, how it is sometimes observed as a season of fasting, and the symbolism often associated with it.