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Advent Wreath Packed with Symbols

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Whether you are talking about the use of the evergreen wreath as a holder of candles to light the long December nights or the Wheel that Scandinavians used to hold candles as they prayed to the god of light to turn the wheel of the earth back to the sun, the advent wreaths’ roots are somewhat sketchy. One think that is know that by the middle ages, Christians were already forming their traditions for the period of time before Christmas and were using this period to prepare for Christ. Using John 3 as their guide the Advent candle seems to support the verse the Light that came into the world to dispel the darkness in sin. The imagery of the advent wreath is Biblical in nature and the symbolism is vast.

The other gems of symbolism are the evergreen as it is a perfect symbol to of everlasting life. Holly is often on the advent wreath. The sharp thorny leaves serve to remind us of the crown of thorns. In England it was once believed the cross was made of Holy. Laurel is another item that can be seen on an advent wreath and it signifies victory. The Victory it signals is over persecution or suffering. Of course a circle has no beginning and no end and that is what God is. He has no beginning or end, In addition Christ is the path to everlasting life.  Pinecones and other seed sac items are often used to represent life, where as they items are the seeds of life. When you combine the wreath and meditate on its symbolism in its totality, yo my see that this wreath helps remind us of the everlasting life were are promised by Christ.

The advent candles also have much symbolism. There are 4 candles to start representing the 4 weeks of advent. Lore says the reason 4 weeks was selected was that each candle represents 1,000 years. The cumulative 4,000 is to represent the years from Adam to Christ came into the world as a baby. The three purple candles are to remind us of the penance prayer and the season of preparing room for Jesus in our hearts. The 3rd Sunday is represented by a pink or rose candle and all the vestments and decor of the church changes to the rose color.  This is a celebration of the faithful and signals the half way point of Advent. The third Sunday of advent is also called Gaudete Sunday. The word Gaudete means Rejoice and how the Sunday got its name because of the overwhelming sense of joy the church starts to feel as Christmas day approaches. The symbolism of the advent candle lighting in its totality is a way to show commemorate the first coming of Christ and to show we are also hopeful for the second coming.

Again calling to mind the significance of the light and Christ’s light in the world, the Advent wreath is one item that in any more should call to mind many aspects of the belief in Christ and help keep families grounded during the secular celebration of Christmas.

This article was published on Saturday 26 July, 2008.



Up a level: Liturgical Calendar
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