If you've been wondering about advent candle meaning, this article will help you understand why advent candles are used in a Christian home.
What is Advent?
Advent is the period of anticipation roughly between Thanksgiving and Christmas. No, it's not the presents that are being anticipated, but the biggest gift ever given to the world in the minds of Christians - the birth of Jesus.
Advent begins four weeks before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. During the first week of advent, only the first candle is lit. The second week, two candles are lit and so on until the fourth week when all four candles are lit.
Families traditionally use their Advent wreaths as centerpieces and light the candles during dinner. The lighting of the candle is often accompanied by a reading that reminds the family about the feeling of anticipation and reverence they should have during this season.
The Colors of Advent
Advent candle meaning is slightly different in different faiths, because the colors of the candles are often different. In Catholic households, the first two candles are purple, the third is pink and the fourth is also purple.
Purple stands for penitence and fasting, which is what is traditionally done in preparation for the Christmas season. Purple is also the color of royalty, which is appropriate for celebrating the birth of the new King, Jesus. Purple is also used during the Lenten season before Easter, reminding people that even in this time of celebration we can also be mindful of Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection, another gift he provided to us.
The pink candle stands for joy, which is what most people feel in the Christmas season, regardless of their religion.
In Protestant churches, you will often find blue candles used as well or instead of the purple candles. This serves as a symbol of royalty and may also have to do with the night sky, reminding people of the wise men who were guided by the star to find Jesus. In Eastern churches, red candles are used.
Some people also use a central white pillar candle that is lit only on Christmas day, or they replace the four advent candles with white candles for Christmas. These candles celebrate the purity of Jesus and the joy felt on this day.
Deeper Advent Candle Meaning
Advent candles are not just a pretty centerpiece to have on the table during the holiday season. They represent a ritual, a time to slow down during the busy season and remember why it is that we go through all this craziness.
Stopping to light a candle, read a passage and spend a few minutes reflecting on what the holiday is really about can help you feel a deeper sense of peace and will provide a cherished memory for your children.
Because in the end, Christmas is not about the gifts or who has the biggest, brightest tree. It is a celebration of the birth of the savior of one of the biggest religions on earth.
The advent wreath also reminds the faithful that, while the first coming of Jesus is a joyful event, it's also a time to remember his death, resurrection and second coming.
You can make the symbolism even more meaningful by making your own candles to use on your advent wreath. You may also want to try decorating the tray that holds your candles with things you've collected from nature, such as branches and rocks from your yard or a bough from your Christmas tree.
Remember, too, if you have children in the house, that you should try to explain to them the advent candle meaning and why this is part of your celebration. That way they can begin to understand the importance of the season to people of faith as something more than a time for getting presents.