The advent wreath is a Christmas tradition that started in Germany. Households had evergreen wreaths with four candles to symbolize the birth of Jesus. Now, advent wreaths are commonplace in both homes and churches. Here's some more information about the advent wreath tradition, including how you and your kids can make your own.
Components of an Advent Wreath
Typically, an advent wreath consists of a circle of greenery with three violet candles and one rose-colored candle affixed to it. The first Sunday of Advent, the first purple candle is lit. The second Sunday, the second purple candle is lit. On the third Sunday, the rose candle joins the two purple ones, and then on the fourth Sunday the final purple candle is lit, so that all four candles are burning simultaneously.
Oftentimes on Christmas Day, a white candle is placed in the center to commemorate the holiday. In some communities, blue candles are used instead of purple, and others use white for all four candles. The family says prayers or has a short Bible reading after each candle is lit.
The Meaning of the Wreath and Candles
As with many religious traditions, the lighting of advent wreaths is symbolic. The wreaths are circular, symbolizing the never-ending love of God. The color of the evergreens represents new life. Finally, each individual candle is symbolic in its own right, with the first violet candle representing hope, the second violet candle representing love, the rose candle representing joy, and the third violet candle representing peace
Why the rose candle? It comes from Catholic liturgy. The third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday (gaudete is Latin for “rejoice”). On Gaudete Sunday, the priests don rose-colored vestments.
How to Make a Fresh Advent Wreath
Step 1—cut fronds
With clippers, snip the boughs into 6?–10-inch fronds. Group an assortment of sizes or tree varieties into small bunches of 4–6 fronds. Wire the cut ends of the bunches with florist wire. Repeat.
Step 2—attach to the wreath frame
Affix one end of the skein of florist wire to the wire wreath frame. Take one of your bunches and wrap the damp moss around the cut end. With the skein of wire, affix the bunch to the frame.
Step 3—add more greenery
Add the next bunch of greenery in the same direction as the first and connect it with the same wire. Repeat this process until you only have a few bunches left. Fill in any gaps with the extra bunches. As you get to the “end” of the wreath, you may need to pull up your first bunch and tuck the final bunch under it for a seamless look.
Step 4—insert candles
Place the wreath flat on the table where you’d like it displayed. Place the four candle holders on the interior of the circle, one for each corner of the “square,” and insert the candles.
Note: lit candles and fresh wreaths could be a fire hazard if not treated properly. Remember to keep the wreath moist so it stays fresh and never leave the candles unattended. Replace the candles before they burn to the level of the wreath.