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The Meaning Behind the Wreath and Candles

The advent wreath is used by Christians as way of symbolizing the coming of Jesus, the light, into the world. The advent wreath consist of four candles mounted around the circumference of an evergreen wreath. These candles are usually purple or blue which are the liturgical colors for Advent and symbolize royalty. Sometimes one of these four candles is pink and there may be a fifth white candle in the center of the wreath.


Each week beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas an additional candle is lighted. On the first Sunday one candle is lighted. On the second two and so on until all four are lighted the Sunday before Christmas. If there is a pink candle it is usually the third candle. If there is a white candle in the center it is lighted on Christmas Eve and all through the 12 days of Christmas. This progression of light represents the coming of the light into the world.

The circle of the evergreen wreath represents eternal life. The evergreen remains green representing life and the circle is eternal with no beginning and no end.

There are various traditions about the meaning of each of the candles. One tradition labels them the Prophet's candle, the Bethlehem candle, the Shepherd's candle(pink), and the Angel's candle. These represent the sources of the Good News of the coming of Jesus. The Good news came through the prophets, was born in Bethlehem, was witnessed by the shepherds and proclaimed by hosts of Angels. Another set of traditions label them hope, love, joy (pink), and peace or some variation on this. This tradition focuses on the nature of the Good News. It is news of hope for the future, the love of God, joy of the Spirit and peace on Earth.

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