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The Purpose and Symbolism of the Advent Wreath

The Purpose and Symbolism of the Advent Wreath

Advent candle wreath

Advent, which begins the Church’s liturgical year, began on Sunday, December 3. Advent encompasses the four Sundays and weekdays leading up to the celebration of Christmas.

The Advent season is a time of preparation for our hearts and minds for the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas.

At Mercy Home, we celebrate Advent by putting up an Advent Wreath and lighting candles each week. Our Advent Wreath is located right near the entrance of the cafeteria, and both coworkers and kids are encouraged to look at it and contemplate the meaning of Advent.

The use of the wreath and candles during Advent are a longstanding Catholic tradition that was originally adopted by Christians in the Middle Ages as part of their spiritual preparation for Christmas.

The wreath and candles are full of symbolism tied to the Christmas season. The wreath itself, which is made of various evergreens, signifies continuous life. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life we find in Christ.

Even the individual evergreens that make up the wreath have their own meanings that can be adapted to our faith. The laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering. The pine, holly, and yew signify immortality and the cedar signifies strength and healing. The pine cones that decorate the wreath symbolize life and resurrection. The wreath as a whole is meant to remind us of both the immortality of our souls and God’s promise of everlasting life to us through Christ.

The candles also have their own special significance. The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent, and one candle is lit each Sunday. Three of the candles are purple because the color violet is a liturgical color that signifies a time of prayer, penance, and sacrifice.

Lit advent candles
The first candle, which is purple, symbolizes hope. It is sometimes called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, especially Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. It represents the expectation felt in anticipation of the coming Messiah.

The second candle, also purple, represents faith. It is called the “Bethlehem Candle” as a reminder of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.

The third candle is pink and symbolizes joy. It is called the “Shepard’s Candle,” and is pink because rose is a liturgical color for joy. The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday and is meant to remind us of the joy that the world experienced at the birth of Jesus, as well as the joy that the faithful have reached the midpoint of Advent.

On the fourth week of Advent, we light the final purple candle to mark the final week of prayer and penance as we wait for the birth of our Savior. This final candle, the “Angel’s Candle,” symbolizes peace. It reminds us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”

Though the Mercy Home Advent wreath does not include a white candle, this is a tradition that has become popular in modern day adaptations.

The white candle is placed in the middle of the wreath and lit on Christmas Eve. This candle is called the “Christ Candle” and represents the life of Christ. The color white is for purity—because Christ is our sinless, pure Savior.

Celebrating Advent is an excellent way to prepare your mind and heart for Christmas. For more ideas on celebrating Advent, check out Mercy Home’s Pinterest board.

Comments

12 replies
  1. Randall Scott Redman says:

    Mercy Home, since I donated money for a young man left at the steps so to speak. I would like to ask you to pray daily like I am the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    Joyful – Monday’s and Saturday’s until Advent
    Sorrowful – Tuesday’s and Friday’s
    Glorious – Wednesday’s and all Sunday’s until Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
    Luminous – Thursday’s until Holy Week. (We’ll figure something out for Lent 2020)

    Mercy Home – I would love to go to Christmas Eve at Holy Name in Downtown Chicago with you. Give you a big Christmas Hug. Sometimes that is more needed than a lot of gifts. Do the Midnight Mass thing.

    Hugs to all my friends at Mercy Home. (Hope you pray the Rosary along with me to keep me going) Holy Family Catholic Community of Fond du Lac, WI

    Reply
  2. Paula says:

    It’s right for us to be reminded if it wasn’t for Jesus Christmas would not exist.
    The Advent candles remind us of prophecy faith, joy peace what a beautiful gift we would not have if not for Jesus had not come we now have hope light through darkness because Christ our saviour was born sinless and died sinless and we are saved .

    Reply
  3. Greg says:

    I really liked this, I felt I connected especially to Paula and Randall Scott Redman. I would love to go to the Midnight mass thing with you, and give a big Christmas hug at Christmas Eve at Holy Name downtown, chicago, Randall.

    Reply
  4. Lynnae S. Larson says:

    The information is correct and the Advent Wreath is lit from left to right..
    The wreath includes 3 purple candles, 1 pink, and 1 white.
    1 hope, 2 faith, 3 joy, 4, (pink) peace, 5 (white) purity.
    The wreath stands for eternity of the God’s Church.
    Remember this is a traditional symbolization to promote remembrances of
    God’s Gift to us at Christmas during the Advent Season which starts the beginning of the Church year.
    Blessings at Christmastide!
    Lynnae Larson

    Reply
  5. Anthony says:

    Great explanation of the advent wreath and candles,I was not aware of its meaning,this should be taught to our kids in school,it probably was a custom known by the Ireland of a by gone age.I will teach my kids the meaning of this,great post,thank you.

    Reply
  6. Juliette Gordon from says:

    Thanks very much. I have never done this before. I was born and raised a Catholic, but got married to a nom Catholic. I continue to visit. Please help me with special prayers. God bless you

    Reply
  7. Bell from AL says:

    This is our church’s theme for the month… The Advent. Thank you for sharing. I have a better understanding of the season we are in. Much love!

    Reply
  8. Deelano says:

    Thank you for the very informative description of the history and meanings of the Advent wreath. God Bless you all. Merry Christmas. ?❤?

    Reply

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Comments

12 replies
  1. Randall Scott Redman says:

    Mercy Home, since I donated money for a young man left at the steps so to speak. I would like to ask you to pray daily like I am the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    Joyful – Monday’s and Saturday’s until Advent
    Sorrowful – Tuesday’s and Friday’s
    Glorious – Wednesday’s and all Sunday’s until Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
    Luminous – Thursday’s until Holy Week. (We’ll figure something out for Lent 2020)

    Mercy Home – I would love to go to Christmas Eve at Holy Name in Downtown Chicago with you. Give you a big Christmas Hug. Sometimes that is more needed than a lot of gifts. Do the Midnight Mass thing.

    Hugs to all my friends at Mercy Home. (Hope you pray the Rosary along with me to keep me going) Holy Family Catholic Community of Fond du Lac, WI

    Reply
  2. Paula says:

    It’s right for us to be reminded if it wasn’t for Jesus Christmas would not exist.
    The Advent candles remind us of prophecy faith, joy peace what a beautiful gift we would not have if not for Jesus had not come we now have hope light through darkness because Christ our saviour was born sinless and died sinless and we are saved .

    Reply
  3. Greg says:

    I really liked this, I felt I connected especially to Paula and Randall Scott Redman. I would love to go to the Midnight mass thing with you, and give a big Christmas hug at Christmas Eve at Holy Name downtown, chicago, Randall.

    Reply
  4. Lynnae S. Larson says:

    The information is correct and the Advent Wreath is lit from left to right..
    The wreath includes 3 purple candles, 1 pink, and 1 white.
    1 hope, 2 faith, 3 joy, 4, (pink) peace, 5 (white) purity.
    The wreath stands for eternity of the God’s Church.
    Remember this is a traditional symbolization to promote remembrances of
    God’s Gift to us at Christmas during the Advent Season which starts the beginning of the Church year.
    Blessings at Christmastide!
    Lynnae Larson

    Reply
  5. Anthony says:

    Great explanation of the advent wreath and candles,I was not aware of its meaning,this should be taught to our kids in school,it probably was a custom known by the Ireland of a by gone age.I will teach my kids the meaning of this,great post,thank you.

    Reply
  6. Juliette Gordon from says:

    Thanks very much. I have never done this before. I was born and raised a Catholic, but got married to a nom Catholic. I continue to visit. Please help me with special prayers. God bless you

    Reply
  7. Bell from AL says:

    This is our church’s theme for the month… The Advent. Thank you for sharing. I have a better understanding of the season we are in. Much love!

    Reply
  8. Deelano says:

    Thank you for the very informative description of the history and meanings of the Advent wreath. God Bless you all. Merry Christmas. ?❤?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

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Feel free to contribute!

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *