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HISTORY

Advent Wreath: Origin, meaning, and what’s the deal with the candles?

If you don’t know this lovely Christmas tradition, it is likely that after knowing its meaning, you will want to have it in your home every year.

The Advent Wreath is a decorative element that cannot be missing at Christmas since it has a deep meaning that offers joy and happiness to the people who include it in their homes during the Christmas season.

Advent is the period that spans four weeks before Christmas, specifically the four Sundays before Christmas. Besides looking beautiful in the living room or any other corner of the house, all the objects that compose it have a message to offer, especially the candles, which are involved in the main ritual that consists of lighting one of them every Sunday to complete the ‘cycle’ of the four candles.

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If you want to know the history of this beautiful Christmas tradition, we tell you how it came about, what it means and when you should blow out the last candle.

Origin and History of the Advent Wreath

You may think that the tradition of placing a wreath at home before Christmas Eve comes from the United States, but this is not so, since the origin of the Advent Wreath with four candles comes from Europe, specifically from Germany.

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In that country, it was considered a pagan tradition that consisted of lighting candles during the winter to ask for the ‘sun’ through fire in that cold and dark season. It is said that missionaries took advantage of this to evangelize people since some customs were used to teach the Catholic faith.

Thus, the creation of the Advent Wreath, as it is known today, came about to announce the arrival of Christmas. The curious thing about it is that it initially came about because the children of a school insistently asked Pastor Johann Hinrich Wichern when Christmas would arrive, so he built the ornament with four candles and told them that every Sunday he would light one so that they would know that the date was near.

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What the Advent Wreath means

The Advent Wreath hides several meanings through its elements, such as the fact that it is circular or that it specifically includes four candles of different colors.

Circular shape

The circular shape of the wreath represents infinity, which in turn signifies God’s eternal love.

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Foliage

The green foliage signifies life and hope. So, if the wreath is all natural (usually pine), it is all the better. Besides, it smells delicious.

Apples

The apples often seen in the decoration are related to the Catholic story of Adam and Eve, who were counting on the promise of the one known as the Universal Savior.

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Candles

The last element, and perhaps the most important, are the candles. Currently, for aesthetics or the Christmas color scheme can be seen in colors, such as red, gold, and silver, but the most representative colors are purple and pink.

Candle Colors

The color purple is used for three candles while the last one is usually pink. The purple gives rise to the spiritual preparation for the arrival of Christ, that is to say, they represent the waiting. The pink color alludes to the joy of the birth of the baby Jesus.

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When should you blow out the last candle of the Advent Wreath?

According to tradition, each candle is lit on the four Sundays of December before the 24th. The first to be lit are the purple ones, and lastly, the pink candle, which announces the approach of Christmas.

This 2022, the first Sunday was November 27, the second and third Sundays will be December 4 and 11, and the last one will be December 18, so after this date and before Christmas, you can blow out the last candle of your Advent Wreath.

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Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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