Light Your Way To A Merry Christmas
Click HERE for a Virtual Advent Wreath with wicks that light when clicked,
or HERE for a brief history of Advent and the wreath:
1st Week of Advent Begins on the 4th Sunday Before Christmas:
To light, click the wick of the purple candle on the left.
2nd Week of Advent Will Begin on the 3rd Sunday Before Christmas:
To light, click the wick of the 2nd purple candle on the left.
3rd Week of Advent Will Begin on the 2nd Sunday Before Christmas:
To light, click the wick of the pink candle~rose-colored, for joyful anticipation.
4th Week of Advent Will Begin on the Sunday Before Christmas:
To light, click the wick of the last purple candle on the right.
The Season of Advent Will End at Christmas:
To light (after midnight Christmas Eve or Christmas Day), click the wick of the white candle.
May You & Yours Receive All the Blessings Of Christmas~Happy HolyDays!
A Blessed Annunciation Day (Mar. 25) + 9 Months = A Merry Christmas (Dec. 25)
To Begin Again Click HERE or scroll down to read about Advent and the Wreath.
Advent & the Advent Wreath: A Brief History
The anticipatory season of Advent is a tradition that expands the spiritual meaning of Christmas outside of the few days of gift giving, just as the 12 Days of Christmas extends it beyond. An Advent wreath like the one featured on this page is a time-honored way to count down the four Sundays before Christmas. The custom of using a candle wreath at this season of the year (laid flat on a stand or table) was formalized and first popularized in 16th century Lutheran Germany. As each Sunday of Advent arrives, feel free to invite someone to click and light one or more candles, or ask a child to color their own version and add a flame (or a gold sticker) each week. On the first Sunday of Advent the first purple candle is lit, accompanied by a simple prayer, such as "Lord God, we light this candle to thank you for your son Jesus, our savior and the light of the world." The second week the first two purple candles are lit in order, and so on. The third Sunday adds the rose-colored candle representing a break from the waiting period in which a few holiday treats can be enjoyed ahead of time. Finally all four colored candles are lit for the last Sunday of Advent. Modern versions of the wreath often feature a white candle to light on Christmas Eve after dark--with all five lit again each evening through Epiphany on January 6 marking the end of the 12th day of Christmas.
It is also interesting to note that the original colors of the Advent wreath follow traditional liturgical colors in the vestments and cloths used at Mass. Purple, the color of royalty for Christ the newborn king, is chosen as a penitential color as Advent was once a Lenten-like time of preparatory prayer and penance. The rose pink represents joy and has its origins in the papal custom of giving out roses on the Sundays in the latter half of Advent to celebrate passing the midpoint. The third Sunday on which the pink candle is lit is called "Gaudete Sunday," which comes from the Latin term for "rejoice"--the first word of the traditional entrance antiphon sung or spoken at the start of the Mass for that day. Gaudete Sunday has a Lenten counterpart in Laetare Sunday (also named for the day's antiphon or introit)--another day on which rose vestments and altar cloths are used after the midpoint of Lent to signify a respite from the penitential season. The wreath itself is traditionally made of evergreens, reminding us of everlasting life--these include laurel, pine, yew, cedar, and often holly which has a special Christian symbolism in that the prickly leaves are reminiscent of Christ's crown of thorns. The circle of the wreath symbolizes eternity, and the nuts, seeds, pods, and pinecones are a symbol of resurrection and new life.
Advent wreaths can be purchased ready-made, but this seasonal addition needn't be costly. Children can start a yearly tradition of drawing an annual Advent wreath and adding a flame each Sunday, or a simple inexpensive version can be made at home with craft or dollar store items. The easiest way to make an Advent wreath is to use a round shallow dish or platter and choose wide stand-up candles in the desired colors--small votives, tall pillars, or jar candles with the labels removed can be used depending on the size of the wreath. If you add real or faux greens, make sure the flames will be far enough away as they burn down. For safety, especially if the wreath will be left unattended, flameless candles can also be used. Try unique variations, such as a wreath of greenery with a 4-section cut-crystal dish in the center filled with water and pink and purple floating candles. The Advent wreath was brought to America by German immigrants in the 1800s and became popular in Catholic churches. In recent years it has spread to various denominations, which often use different color variations--red candles with one white in keeping with holiday decor, or blue symbolic of hope and waiting. The newer addition of the central white candle represents Jesus Christ--in some versions of the wreath all the candles are white to remind us of Christ and His purity. May we all keep that in mind as we prepare to celebrate a Merry and Blessed Christmas.