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Advent Wreath History Predates Catholic Church

Christmas time has many, many fond traditions. Some we know the story of, while some we simply follow because we just do.  One of those traditions is the Advent wreath. But do we really know the Advent wreath history?  Much of the wreath’s history is tied to the Catholic religion, but there is evidence that it predates the Christian faith being used in winter by early Germanic tribes.  As the practice grew popular, the church began to incorporate the tradition into its teachings. This was a common practice that church used to link what was familiar to people with the new teachings of the faith.

The first step tying the Advent wreath history to the church came in the middle ages when the church adopted the wreath tradition as part of their preparation for the Christmas season. By the early 1600’s both the Lutheran and Catholic churches formalized the ceremonies, practices, and meanings of the Advent Wreath.

The beauty of the Advent wreath history is that it is very rich and truly meaningful. In general, the wreath uses evergreens throughout its construction. The evergreens represent eternal life because they live on while everything else dies in winter. Each type of evergreen has its own special meaning. Laurel represents victory over persecution and suffering. Yew, holly and pine all represent immortality. The cedar that is used signifies strength. Many scholars argue that the holly represents the crown of thorns worn by Jesus and that the cross was made of holly according to one English legend. The circular shape of the wreath itself represents the never ending rule of God and the eternity of life for believers.  Adding any seeds, nuts, or pine cones reflect the renewal of life and immortality. When you put the whole wreath together, it symbolizes the never ending faith of God and the resurrection of the human soul in Heaven.

Another key part of the Advent wreath history is the meaning of the four candles. One tradition holds that the four candles represent the 4,000 years from the Garden of Eden to the birth of Christ. It was a long held belief that the world was only a few thousand years old based on scholarly research of Old Testament timelines. Three of the candles are purple and one is rose or pink.  The purple candles symbolize the penance, prayer, and the sacrifices and good works done at this time. The rose candle is lit traditionally on the third Sunday known as Gaudete Sunday. This is the Sunday of rejoicing because the faithful have arrived at the half way point of Advent, and their preparation is now half over. The continuous lighting of the candles represents the eternal light brought into the world by Christ and the never ending hope keeps that light burning until the second coming of the Savior.

According to some traditions long held over the course of  the Advent wreath hist

This article was published on Tuesday 17 November, 2009.

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