Advent Candles

The lighting of the four candles during winter may well go back to the ancient fire wheel, lighted in the darkest time of year to lure the sun back and ensure another spring.

advent_wreathEach candle has a specific meaning associated with different aspects of the Advent story. The first one almost always symbolizes expectant hope and is sometimes associated with prophecy. The others are organized around characters or themes as a way to unfold the story and direct attention to the celebrations and worship in the season, such as Peace, Love, Joy. The third is generally symbolic of Joy at the imminence of the coming of Christ. A fifth, white or gold, candle — called a “Christ Candle” — is often lit in the center on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day to signify Christ’s birth.

The color scheme and order of symbolic associations for the candles is largely arbitrary but several traditions have adopted them for the meaning they carry. For Catholics and Protestants alike, the color of the first, second and fourth candles are purple .but the third is rose-colored, to joyfully represent a Sunday with a less somber liturgy.

A common way of marking the days of Advent, particularly among children, is an Advent Calendar, traditionally made of wood but today usually made of cardboard. Typically, there is a tab that can be unsealed and raised for each day of Advent. Something is hidden behind each tab, such as a devotional reading, a religious messages, a seasonal picture, a piece of candy, or a small item such as a toy or charm.

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