I became a Christian at a Baptist church, spent several years in a charasmatic church, but ended up at a Nazarene college and have attended the Nazarene church for several years. Some Nazarene churches have a custom of lighting an Advent wreath at Christmas time. On the first Sunday of Advent one candle is lit, and a new candle is added each successive Sunday leading up to Christmas. The final center candle is lit on Christmas Eve. At first, I was perplexed by this tradition and wasn’t sure why it was done, so I did a little research. I discovered that traditions for Advent wreaths vary by denomination and family but they are used to help one focus on Christ during Advent. Some are composed of all purple candles with one white one in the center. Others use blue, and some only have 4 candles. I chose to fill our wreath, like the one pictured below, with three purple candles, one pink, and a central white one. I added silk evergreen and holly to ours to spruce it up. Here are a few of the meanings behind the wreath:
- The circular shape reminds us that God’s love for us never ends.
- The evergreens remind us that Jesus came to give us everlasting life.
- The red holly berries remind us that he shed his blood to cover our sins.
- The light of the candles reminds us that Jesus is light and that we are to shine his light for others to see.
- The first candle is the prophecy candle, reminding us that Jesus’ birth fulfilled prophecy.
- The second candle is the shepherd candle because the shepherds were the first told of his birth.
- The third candle is the angel candle to remind us that the angels announced Jesus’ birth.
- The fourth candle is the Bethlehem candle reminding us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
- The white candle in the center is lit on Christmas Eve . It represents the birth of Jesus. It is white to symbolize purity.
- The angle candle is pink to represent hope. The others are purple to remind us of the royalty of Christ.
I think this has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions that I started with my girls. Each evening of Advent we gather around the coffee table, or dining room table, with the Advent wreath. We light the candles (1 the first week, 2 the second, and so on) pray, do an Advent devotion using the books I’ve mentioned earlier this week, and end with a Christmas carol. It really helps us to focus on Christ in the midst of Christmas shopping, gifts under the tree, and chocolate Santas.
There are many different Advent wreaths which you can find online or in Christian bookstores. I’ve even seen directions for making your own. It’s a simple way to add meaning to your Christmas celebrations.