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What is a Celtic Advent Wreath

The advent of the Christmas festival is celebrated world over by the Christians. The history of Celtic advent wreath dates back to pre-Christian era of the northern Europe, where people lived in forests. They were spiritually connected to forest spirits and Gods and believed that the passing of seasons, shortening and lengthening of the days and the changes in the plants were controlled by those spirits. They particularly were drawn towards the evergreen trees, because they remained green throughout winter when most of the vegetation was frozen. This made them worship evergreen as it represented the continuity of the life.

So during the winter solstice, the evergreens were hung as symbol of worship and hope of receiving blessings from spirits that resided in them. Soon evergreen wreaths were made and hung on the windows and doors. These wreaths were offered prayers. As the season changed from cold to spring the wreath got more beautiful with addition of cones, flowers, etc.

So the wreath became as a symbol of continuity of life. When Celtic people adopted Christian way of life they brought the wreath ceremony into Christianity. In short the Celtic people laid the foundation of advent wreath ceremony that is celebrated for four Sundays before Christmas. The traditional Celtic wreath uses candles or light green tapers in place of purple or pink colored candles. The evergreen wreath is used as a holder of the candles to light up, long December night.

The symbolism of Celtic advent wreath is beautiful. It is made up of different evergreens and symbolizes continuity of the life, against all odds. Evergreens do not lose their green color in spite of chilling winters and in same manner we should always keep faith in our God, even in times of desperation and pain. The laurel signifies victory over suffering, the pine, holly and yew represent immortality, and the cedar depicts strength and healing. The holly, cross and prickly leaves the crown of thorns. The wreath depicts everlasting life through Christ, promised by our Father in heaven.

Candles are used to light up the wreath and drive away the darkness. Similarly Christ is light of our world and drives away darkness of sin that reside in our soul. Green colored candles are placed on circular candle holder, which is covered by evergreen leaves, cones, flowers, seedpods, etc. This ceremony is done over for four Sundays, with the sole purpose to cleanse our soul and prepare for Christmas.

On the first Sunday the wreath is lit and after blessing the food, prayers are offered. This ceremony is repeated again on second, third and finally on the fourth Sunday, before the Christmas, allowing us remains vigilant against the sin and evil. By doing this we truly welcome our savior to enter our lives and soul for our own good.

This article was published on Saturday 16 May, 2009.

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