Heralding Christmas: Lighting the Advent Wreath

In grade school during this time of the year, I would remember doing the Advent wreath as a project and the whole class would wait eagerly who had made the best wreath.  Using green Japanese or crepe paper to create fringes and give the effect of leaves covering the circle, we would then adorn it four candles: three of these would be violet, one would be pink.  We would light one candle each week at the start of the Advent season.

The great thing about studying in a Catholic school is that religion teachers can be very repetitive that everything they teach you is practically the same each year.  You remember most of the important points of the faith until it grows on you like second skin.  Take for instance the Advent Wreath.  I never really gave much importance to it when I was younger, but look at me now–thirty years later—dusting and firming up the family wreath for the annual lighting which my family and I have been practicing for three years now.  It has become a tradition that my son is conscious of and expects since we started it.


The Symbols in the Advent Wreath

Though the history and origin of the wreath is sketchy, what is certain is that the early Christians used this in preparation for Christmas.  The greens encircling the wreath symbolize life and regeneration of life.  The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent, wherein a violet candle is lit each week.  Violet represents repentance.  As believers of Christ, we should sincerely ask repentance for our sins before His return, so that we become worthy of His promises when He comes to us.  The candles themselves represent the light of Jesus.  As each candle is lit, the light of Christ gives the promise of hope.  This burns brighter as another candle is lit every week until the fourth week.

After the three violet candles, the fourth candle is lit.  This is a pink one which symbolizes joy and the close coming of Jesus, i.e. His birth and our redemption.  In some churches, a fifth candle is lit to represent Jesus.  Symbolically, all of these candles turn to gold which figuratively symbolizes light—the true LIGHT of the world who is Christ.  Now how can that not be beautiful, in a world that is full of darkness and despair?


A Beautiful Event

It is a beautiful moment in the household.  With my son now actively leading the prayer, it has made our Christmas preparations more meaningful and solemn.  It is a moment when we are all together in prayer (including the household helpers), while the piano top is all lit in Christmas lights.

This year, we hope to include more participants to the activity and include children in the prayers.  It is such a wonderful tradition that makes Christmas more meaningful.

The Advent season will start this Sunday, December 2, and will run for four consecutive Sundays until December 23, the last Sunday before Christmas.



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