The Advent Wreath
Where did this devotion come from?
Advent wreaths originated in Northern Europe. Evergreens were woven into a circular wreath and decorated with candles which symbolized life and light during the dark months of winter. It is said that Saint Boniface was the first give the wreath its Christian meaning in the eighth century. Families and churches have been using these wreaths as part of our Advent preparation ever since. The devotion is usually incorporated during the family meal, or during family night prayers.
The Circle of Evergreen
has no beginning and no end
a symbol of the eternity of God. He always existed and will always be.
a symbol of continuous life
God’s love for us is never changing
The Four Candles
one for each of the four Sundays of Advent
represent prayer, penance & preparation
also signifies the "royalty" of Jesus Christ
Rose (pink) candle
symbol of rejoicing or Joy
lit on the 3rd Sunday of Advent Gaudete (rejoicing) Sunday
represents Christ the Light of the World
sometimes added at Christmas
Light of the candles
the Light of Christ which dispels the darkness in our lives
each Sunday we light one more candle
symbolize the anticipation, expectation and hope of the coming of Jesus
Blessing of the Advent Wreath at Home
All make the sign of the cross as the leader says:
Leader: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All respond: Who made heaven and earth.
Then the Scripture is read,
Reader: The Word of the Lord.
All Respond: Thanks be to God.
With hands joined, the leader says:
Lord our God, we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Savior of every nation.
Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
All respond: Amen.
The blessing may conclude with a verse from “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
Week 1 - Lighting of the Advent Wreath
According to tradition, each candle has a special meaning. The first one, is called the prophecy candle or candle of hope. People in the Old Testament knew that God had promised to send a Savior. And we’re filled with hope because we know that Jesus came to Earth on the first Christmas so he could tell people about God and die for our sins. Pray this prayer every day this week:
Christ our Light, Shine in our lives with hope and promise.
Give us right vision so that we remain attentive to this holy season.
Remind us to look for you in small acts of kindness and love.
We await your coming with wonder.
Week 2 - Lighting of the Advent Wreath
The second purple candle on an Advent wreath is called the Bethlehem candle or the candle of preparation. John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, spread the word that Jesus was on his way. Part of our preparations for Christmas can include letting other people know what Christmas is all about-the birth of our Savior. Pray this prayer every day this week:
Christ our Hope, Illuminate our hearts with your grace.
Enlarge our vision so that we recognize our kinship with all the people of the world.
Help us to give to others in ways that meet their deepest needs.
We await your coming with gratitude.
Week 3 - Lighting of the Advent Wreath
The third candle on an Advent wreath, usually pink, is the Shepherd candle or the candle of joy. Christmas excitement is building as the holiday quickly approaches. The angels made a big announcement on the first Christmas, calling Jesus’ birth ‘good news’ that would bring ‘great joy.’ Everything we do to get ready for Christmas can fill us with joy about Jesus. When we’re joyful, we, like the angels, can help spread that good news. Pray this prayer every day this week:
Christ our Joy, Brighten our homes with your presence.
Clarify our vision so that we might see you in the people we cherish.
Make every holiday activity an opportunity to spread your light and love.
We await your coming with delight.
Week 4 - Lighting of the Advent Wreath
The fourth candle, the last purple one, on an Advent wreath is the Angel candle or the candle of love. Christmas happened because of God’s great love for all people. At Christmas, God gave us the best gift ever. He sent his Son, Jesus, to live, die, and rise again so we could live with him forever in heaven. Although this gift required great sacrifice, God knew we needed Jesus. Pray this prayer every day this week:
Christ our Peace, Glow brightly in each moment.
Enlighten our vision so that we see beyond the trappings of the holidays.
Relieve us, if just for a moment, of our worries and stress.
We await your coming with serenity.
Christmas Eve - Lighting of the Advent Wreath
On Christmas Eve through the 12 days of Christmas, light all four candles plus the Christ candle in the center if you have one. Some people replace the coloured candles with four white candles during the Christmas season.
Tonight the Advent season ends. We wait no longer. That great event for which we waited has happened. God's promise of a Redeemer is fulfilled. Christ Jesus is born. We light the Christ candle with praise to our God who brings joy to the world. Pray this prayer every day for the next 12 days:
Lord, you come as a tiny, fragile baby;
yet we know that you are God and you are with us.
May the flame of this candle remind us that you are the light of the world
and that if we follow you, we will never walk in darkness,
but will have the true light of life.