Advent candles are commonly used in the Western world as part of the Christian tradition. They are used to mark Advent, which is a period of preparation and anticipation leading up to the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas.
The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word “adventus,” which means “coming” or “arrival.” This season typically starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and lasts until Christmas Eve.
Lighting Advent Candles
The use of Advent candles serves as a visual and symbolic way to mark the progression of Advent. They are also used to represent spiritual themes associated with this time of year.
Candles are often placed on an Advent wreath, which is a circular wreath with four or five candles arranged on it. Each candle represents a different aspect of the Advent season and is traditionally lit on a specific Sunday leading up to Christmas.
The specific symbolism and traditions associated with the Advent candles can vary slightly between different Christian denominations, but a common interpretation includes:
1) Hope (Purple Candle)
The first candle represents hope and anticipation. It symbolises the expectation of the coming of Christ and the hope of salvation.
2) Peace (Purple Candle)
The second candle represents peace. It reminds believers of the peace that Christ’s coming brings to the world.
3) Joy (Pink Candle)
The third candle, often pink or rose in color, represents joy. It marks a shift in the season, highlighting the growing excitement and joy surrounding the upcoming celebration of Christ’s birth.
4) Love (Purple Candle)
The fourth candle represents love. It emphasizes the love that God has for humanity, demonstrated through the gift of Jesus.
In some traditions, a fifth candle, known as the “Christ candle,” is placed in the centre of the wreath and is white or gold. This candle is typically lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, signifying the arrival of Jesus Christ, the central figure of the Christian faith.
Some people also choose not to use coloured candles. Instead, they use white candles to represent each part of Advent.
The Tradition Of Advent Candles
The use of Advent candles and the Advent wreath are part of the history of Christmas. They provide a meaningful way for Christians to reflect on the significance of the Christmas story. It also help people to prepare their hearts and minds for the celebration of Christ’s birth.
It’s important to note that whilst this tradition has strong religious connotations, it has also become a cultural symbol for the lead up to Christmas in many parts of the Western world.