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The Advent Wreath

by Lorena Bais
the-advent-wreath

How does the Advent Crown come about? 

The Advent Wreath is the first announcement of Christmas. The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”. This is the time when Christians prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. Advent time lasts four weeks before Christmas – four Sundays leading up to Christmas.

Some history

The origin of our Advent wreath can be rooted in the pre-Christian customs of the Germans. During the cold and dark Decembers, they made wreaths of green branches and lit fires as a sign of hope for the coming of spring. However, the Advent wreath does not represent a concession to paganism but, on the contrary, is an example of the Christianization of culture. The old customs now take on a completely new meaning in Christ. He came to make all things new.

New reality

Christians learnt how to appreciate the teaching of Jesus: John 8,12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” The light that shines in the darkness of winter reminds us of Christ who overcomes darkness. United to Jesus, we are also light: Matthew 5,14 “You are the light of the world. You can’t hide a city on top of a mountain.” 

In the 16th century German Catholics and Protestants used this symbol to celebrate Advent. Those primitive customs contained a seed of truth that now expresses the supreme truth: Jesus is the light that has come, that is with us and that will come with glory. Candles anticipate the coming of the Light at Christmas: Jesus Christ.

corona-adviento
La corona está formada por una gran variedad de símbolos.

Advent Wreath and Candles

The Advent wreath is made with evergreens into which four candles are inserted. Three candles are purple, and one is pink. On the first Sunday of Advent we light the first candle and every Sunday of Advent we light one more candle until we reach Christmas. The pink candle corresponds to the third Sunday and represents joy.  As the candles are lit, a prayer is said using a passage from the Bible, and a song is sung. This gesture is done at the end of each Advent mass and it is also advisable to do it at home, for example, before or after dinner. If there are no purple or pink candles, you can still make the wreath since the most important thing is the meaning: the light that shines brighter with the proximity of the birth of Jesus who is the Light of the World. The wreath can be taken to church to be blessed by the priest.

There is a wide variety of symbols in the Advent wreath:

• The circular shape: The circle has no beginning or end. It is a sign of God’s eternal love, without a beginning and without an end, and it also represents our love for God and our neighbor, which must be never-ending.  

• Green branches: Green is the color of hope and life, and God wants us to desire His grace, the forgiveness of our sins, and the eternal glory at the end of our lives. The most important longing in our lives must be to be close to God, our Father. 

corona-adviento2

• The Four Candles: These remind us of the darkness caused by sin that blinds man and moves him away from God. After the first fall of man, God gradually gave him the hope of salvation that illuminated the whole universe like the candles in the wreath. Just as darkness dissipates with every candle we light; the centuries were illuminated with Christ’s ever-closer arrival in our world. There are four candles (three purple ones and a pink one) that are placed on the wreath and are lit – one at a time – during the four Sundays of Advent, as we pray as a family. It should be noted that in some countries a white candle is set in the middle, and it is lit at Christmas – this candle represents the Light of the world that has just been born. 

• Red apples (or pinecones, or Christmas balls) which decorate the wreath: They represent the fruits of the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve who brought sin into the world, but who also received the promise of the Universal Savior.  

• The red ribbon: it represents our love for God and the love of God that surrounds us.  

Do you know how to make an Advent wreath? 

These steps are aimed to help you make it in a simple way, to prepare Christmas as a family. 

  1. Prepare a stable circular base; it can be made with tape-coated newspaper.
  2. Find a pine garland of equal or slightly greater length than the perimeter of the circular base. Join the pine and base with wire or transparent tape. 
  3. Fix to that base the structure where the candles will be glued. The material to make the structure can be cardboard or any other that is hard enough for the candles to be stable.
  4. Paste the candles in a circle.
  5. Place the pinecones, Christmas balls, leaves symmetrically and harmoniously
  6. Finally, add the red ribbon.

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