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Advent, (from Latin adventus, “coming”), in the Christian church calendar, is usually focused on preparing for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. It is also supposed to be a preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. A wreath and candles are full of symbolism tied to the Christmas season. An evergreens wreath represents continuous life –no beginning and no end. The pine, holly, and yew signify immortality and strength.  It also symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life we find in Christ.

  • The first purple candle symbolizes hope the remembrance of the prophets like Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ.
  • The second purple candle represents faith as well Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
  • The third candle is pink –the color of joy. The third Sunday is meant to remind us of the joy of the birth of Jesus brought to the world.
  • Finally the last purple candle is lit. The fourth week is to be a time of prayer and penance. It is also meant to be a symbol of peace.

Some people include a white candle placed in the center of the wreath and lit on Christmas Eve. There is an alternative to the traditional wreath. It is the Laudato Si’ Cosmic Advent
Symbol which draws on the encyclical letter by Pope Francis– Laudato Si’. It includes a variety of the elements from nature like greens, but also rocks, shells, berries. People are encouraged to use what is meaningful. Like the traditional wreath, there are candles but the colors are different:

  • week 1 People are asked to reflect on the birth of the universe— blue candle
  • week 2 It is a week that focuses on the birth of the solar system–green candle
  • week 3 Focuses on the birth of Jesus the Christ—a red candle.
  • week 4 People are asked to reflect on their birth into the whole cosmos — an amber candle.

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