Christmas is just around the corner, and all over the world, there are various ways to celebrate this joyful season. One of the long-standing traditions among many Christians is the Advent wreath.
Coming in various forms such as simple greenery and intricately designed mangers, Advent wreaths are definitely quite popular. However, there are many who do not know about the rich symbolism behind every element in an Advent wreath. Here are a few things you should know so that you can appreciate this tradition even more.
History of the Advent wreath tradition
The tradition of setting up Advent wreaths dates back from the pre-Christian era in Germany, when people lit candles and placed them on wreaths to “light up” the dark days of December — a sign of hope that light will come in spring.
Eventually, this custom was adapted by Christians and came into the shores of America through German immigrants in the 19th century.
Shape of the wreath
Advent wreaths are usually circular in shape, which is considered a symbolism for Christ’s presence — eternal. It neither has a beginning nor an end.
Number and color of Advent wreath candles
In a typical Advent wreath, four candles are lit one at a time on each Sunday leading to Christmas Day. Each of these candles represent a thousand years. In total, the four candles signify the 4,000 years that people waited for their Savior.
Moreover, Advent wreaths usually consist of three purple candles and one pink. The purple candles mean prayer, penance, and sacrifice; they serve to remind us of the things that our hearts should reflect during this season.
Meanwhile, the pink candle is used to signify rejoicing. It is lit during the third Sunday when you are already halfway through the Advent.
The meaning of each candle
The meaning of each candle goes beyond their designated colors. Also called the “Prophecy Candle”, the first purple candle represents hope and the anticipation of the coming Messiah. It is a remembrance of the prophets who foretold Christ’s birth.
The second purple candle signifies love. Known as the “Bethlehem Candle”, it is a symbolization for Christ’s manger. The pink candle on the third Sunday is the “Shepherds Candle”, which represents joy. Lastly, the third purple candle on the last Sunday of Advent is the “Angels Candle” representing peace.
Over time, some aspects of the Advent wreath tradition has been modified. What’s important, however, is for its true meaning to remain in people’s hearts.