Abrahamic / Middle Eastern Christianity Preparing for Christmas With the Advent Wreath Share Flipboard Email Print A mother and daughter light an Advent wreath. Christianity Catholicism Holy Days and Holidays Beliefs and Teachings Prayers Tips Worship Saints Christianity Origins The Bible The New Testament The Old Testament Practical Tools for Christians Christian Life For Teens Christian Prayers Weddings Inspirational Bible Devotions Denominations of Christianity Funerals and Memorial Services Christian Holidays Christian Entertainment Key Terms in Christianity Latter Day Saints View More By Scott P. Richert Catholicism Expert M.A., Political Theory, Catholic University of America B.A., Political Theory, Michigan State University Scott P. Richert is senior content network manager of Our Sunday Visitor. He has written about Catholicism for outlets including Humanitas and Catholic Answers Magazine. our editorial process Scott P. Richert Updated August 05, 2018 The Advent wreath is a popular Catholic Advent custom that originated in Germany. An Advent wreath consists of four candles (three purple, signifying penance, and one rose, signifying joy), surrounded by evergreen branches. One purple candle is lit the first week, two the second week, two purple and one rose the third week, and finally all four are lit in the last week of Advent. The light of the candles signifies the light of Christ, Who will come into the world at Christmas. The History of the Advent Wreath While the Advent wreath is a feature in many Catholic homes and even Catholic churches during the season of Advent, it actually originated among the Lutherans of Eastern Germany in the 16th century. It was quickly adopted by both Protestants and Catholics throughout Germany, and it was brought to the United States by German immigrants, both Catholic and Protestant, in the 19th century. The Advent wreath has deeper origins as well, extending back to pre-Christian customs of burning candles during the darkest months of winter. Medieval Christians retained the custom while seeing such lights as a symbol of Christ. Making Your Own Advent Wreath It's very easy to incorporate the Advent wreath into your preparations for Christmas. You will need four candles—traditionally, three purple and one rose, though you can substitute white. Then, you will need some evergreen boughs (yews, mountain laurels, and holly work well) to arrange around them. They don't even have to be in a circle; you can place them in a straight line—say, on the mantel over the fireplace. If you would rather buy an Advent wreath ready-made, Catholic bookstores and religious-supply shops sell reusable Advent wreath sets, and you can purchase some online. Blessing Your Advent Wreath Once you have your wreath set up, the next step is to bless it. That's usually done on the First Sunday of Advent, or the evening before; but if you didn't do it then, don't worry—you can do it any time during Advent. To make the occasion even more special, why not invite your parish priest to dinner and ask him to bless the wreath and candles? If he is too busy around Advent, you could have him do it in the weeks before. Making the Advent Wreath a Daily Custom The Advent wreath helps us keep our thoughts focused on the coming of Christ at Christmas, so we should integrate it into our daily activities. The easiest way is to make it a part of our evening meal. The family gathers around the wreath and lights the appropriate candles. The father (or another leader) prays the Advent wreath prayer for that week, and the candles are left burning during the meal. After Grace After Meals, you could read the daily Scripture reading for Advent or recite the Saint Andrew Christmas novena before extinguishing the candles. Using the Advent Wreath During the Christmas Season Advent ends, of course, with Christmas Eve, but that's no reason to put the Advent wreath away. Many people add a large white candle to the center of the wreath and light it, along with the other four, starting at Christmas and going all the way through Epiphany. It's a good way to remind ourselves that Christ is the reason for the preparations we made during Advent, and it also helps us remember that Christmas doesn't end on Christmas morning after all the presents have been opened.