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Advent Wreath Lights Way to Messiah

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Beyond the circle of garland Advent wreaths have really step out in the modern time being made from sterling silver and sometimes pewter. But despite all the different materials that are now used to make Advent wreaths,  from the beginning the branches of evergreen formed a circle that is eternity, with no beginning and no end. Historically there were 4 candles, and now sometimes you will see 5 candles mounted to the circle of branches or precious medals. At the start of each week, on Sunday the new candle of the week is lit, with the mass or Sunday worship setting the tone and dictating the candle that is lit. From the beginning, each candle was assigned to different periods of preparation for the Christmas Season, the coming of the baby Jesus, our Lord.

The candles play an important  part of the Advent . They are wired to the branches or cancel holders are molded into the metal making a candle holder. In the most basic of wreaths, one of garland, you may see the candles wired to the wreath without a candle holder. At times homemade wreaths use the wire method. The candles signify and play an important part of the wreath. Of course Christ is the light of the world, but as with many traditions we have there is a distinct reference to the pagan tradition and it was believed the Advent wreaths predecessor was a wheel of light was set to help light the long winter night at the time of the winter equinox.

The colors of the candles are also significant. The first Sunday is marked with a purple candle. The week makes the remembrance of the Old Testament. The profits are called and there are some that have called this candle the profit candle, with Isaiah being the one who foretold of the coming of Jesus and his birth. There is great hope for the future with the excitement of the coming of Jesus.

As the season proceeds, additional candles are lit. The second Sunday also has a second Purple candle and historically this has been tied to love and repentance. It also has been called the Bethlehem candle.

The Third Sunday of Advent has a pink candle and this is a phase of transition in the season as we shift from the past and penitential season to the joy of the upcoming event and focusing on the joy of the season. There is a clear delineation in the transitions between looking back and looking forward.

 For the fourth candle we shift back to purple and it is the peace of the season. Often this 4th candle can be called an Angel candle.

The fifth candle which has only now come into being in the later times, is lit on Christmas eve. It as whit candle and is in the center of the  wreath. It is to remind us that Christ has entered the circle, the world. The white also represents the purity of the season.

The Advent Wreath is a wonderful why to help keep focus on Christ in a very material society.

This article was published on Wednesday 28 May, 2008.



Up a level: Liturgical Calendar
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