Advent Wreaths

The origins of the Advent wreath are shrouded in mystery. We have stories of early pagans lighting candles during the winter season that are tied to the religious anticipation of spring. The wreaths were made of evergreen plants to symbolize eternal life, made in circles to represent the cyclical nature of life, and decorated with natural elements of rebirth and light: pine cones, holly berries, and mistletoe. By the 17th century, many Roman Catholic Churches used some form of candle lighting to celebrate Sundays during the penitential Season of Advent.

There are typically five candles in the wreath: three blue or purple, one rose or pink, and one white. As each candle is lit, the ever growing light of creation is strengthened, climaxing in the wreath’s five lights shining the entirety of the Christmas Feast Day.

The candles each signify one concept that describes the coming of Christ: The first, blue, represents Hope (Jeremiah 33:14-16). The second, also blue, represents Faith (Isaiah 40:3-5). The third, pink, represents Joy, and is lit on what is known as Gaudate Sunday. This also represents the half way mark to Christmas (Isaiah 9:6-7). The fourth candle is blue, representing Peace (Luke 2:10-14). The fifth candle is white or sometimes decorated elaborately as a Christ candle, and represents Jesus directly.
In family practice, the Advent wreath is lit at dinner time after the blessing of the food.


A Liturgy for lighting the Advent Wreath

On the First Sunday of Advent:
The head of the family blesses the wreath, praying:
O God, you make all things holy. We ask you to bless this wreath, that it may help us prepare to meet Jesus again this Christmastide. May our faith strengthen us to serve those you bring us to. Amen.

During the 1st week of Advent:
After each meal’s blessing, a family member prays:
O God, come and sit with us at our table, protect us through the long nights of winter, and deliver us from the long night of our sin, in the Hope that we might see Jesus, and welcome him to our home on Christmas Day. Amen.
tThe father then lights one candle.

During the 2nd week of Advent:
After each meal’s blessing, a family member prays:
O God, give us Faith to prepare us for the coming of Jesus. Remind us that his coming at Christmas makes us worthy to serve you and all your creation with Faithful hearts. Amen.
The mother then lights the candle from the first week plus one more candle.

During the 3rd week of Advent:
After each meal’s blessing, a family member prays:
O God, we invite you to our table, and ask you to brighten the darkness of the world. Bring us the Joy that only you can bring to us this night, that with Joy we may welcome Jesus into our lives when he comes to us on Christmas Day. Amen.
The oldest child then lights the two previously lit candles plus the rose candle.

During the 4th week of Advent:
After the meal’s blessing, a family member prays:
O God, bring your Peace to this table, with your might protect us, and forgive us our sins both known and unknown, that we might freely open our hearts and our home to Jesus when he comes on Christmas Day. Amen.
The youngest child then lights all of the candles of the wreath.
Once all of the candles are lit, pray as a family:

O God, you are the light of the world. Let Our light so shine that it may brighten the face of Jesus as he enters our home on Christmas Day. Make this home a holy place, full of light, love, and laughter. Amen.

Printable Advent Wreath Prayers

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