For many Christians, Advent wreaths are a favourite way to celebrate the month of December leading up to Christmas Day. Although Advent Wreaths are popular among Christians, many are not aware of the rich meaning and symbolism embedded in the tradition. If we learn this meaning, we can appreciate it all the more!
DARKNESS AND LIGHT
The Advent candles readily demonstrate the strong contrast between darkness and light. In the Bible, Christ is referred to as the “Light of the World” contrasted with the darkness of sin. Human history spanned long ages before our prophesied Saviour would finally make his appearance, and God’s promise to make all things new through him.
As His Advent, or “coming,” draws nearer another candle is lit, with each candle dispelling the darkness a little more. Thus, the Advent wreath helps us to spiritually contemplate the great drama of salvation history that surrounds the birth of God Incarnate who comes to redeem the human race.
Meaning of Advent Wreath’s: SHAPE, NUMBER, AND COLOUR
SHAPE: The circular shape of the wreath, without beginning or end, symbolises God’s complete and unending love for us—a love that sent his Son into the world to redeem us from the curse of sin. It also represents eternal life which becomes ours through faith in Jesus Christ.
NUMBER: The Advent Wreath traditionally holds four candles which are lit, one at a time, on each of the four Sundays of the Advent season. Each candle represents 1,000 years. Added together, the four candles symbolise the 4,000 years that humanity waited for the world’s Saviour – from Adam and Eve to Jesus, whose birth was foretold in the Old Testament.
Some Advent wreath traditions also include a fifth white “Christ” candle, symbolising purity, that is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. Many circular wreaths can incorporate a white candle by adding a pillar candle to the wreath centre.
COLOUR: Violet is a liturgical colour that is used to signify a time of prayer, penance, and sacrifice and is used during Advent and Lent. Advent, also called “little Lent,” is the season where we spiritually wait in our “darkness” with hopeful expectation for our promised redemption, just as the whole world did before Christ’s birth, and just as the whole world does now as we eagerly await his promised return.