Advent is nearly upon us! I simply love this season of preparation before Christmas, using this time to ready not only our home, but more importantly, our hearts for Christ’s birth. A timeless Catholic tradition to augment our tangible preparation is the Advent Wreath: Advent wreaths are generally comprised of four candles, three violet and one rose, adorned by greenery, typically evergreen or holly. Some wreaths contain a fifth, white candle, called the Christ Candle, that is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful. The wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life. Even these evergreens have a traditional meaning which can be adapted to our faith: The laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering; pine, holly, and yew, immortality; and cedar, strength and healing. Holly also has a special Christian symbolism: The prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns, and one English legend tells of how the cross was made of holly. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ. Any pine cones, nuts, or seedpods used to decorate the wreath also symbolize life and resurrection. All together, the wreath of evergreens depicts the immortality of our soul and the new, everlasting life promised to us through Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, who entered our world becoming true man and who was victorious over sin and death through His own passion, death, and resurrection.
The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. A tradition is that each week represents one thousand years, to sum to the 4,000 years from Adam and Eve until the Birth of the Savior. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead. (1)
In anticipation of Advent I put together these lovely FREE Printable Advent Wreath Blessing Cards: Print them on a sturdy cardstock, then simply cut and laminate to use again every year!
Click the link or image below to download your Free Advent Wreath Blessing Cards!
Advent Prayer Cards PDF
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