Sunday, December 07, 2008

The advent wreath

I have been asked to explain the significance of the coloured candles in the Advent wreath. Most people have three purple candles and one pink or rose-coloured one. Some people also have a white candle in the centre of the wreath, this is lit on Christmas Day as a symbol of Christ as Light of the World.

The first purple candle is lit on the first Sunday of Advent. It represents hope. We light another purple candle on the second Sunday, this represents love. Then on the third Sunday we light the pink candle to represent joy. When I was young and we still used Latin for all our church services, the third Sunday of Advent was known as Gaudete Sunday, gaudete being Latin for rejoice. This was the day, near the midpoint of Advent, when the penitential aspect of Advent was relaxed, the purple vestments were put aside for the day and the priest wore rose-coloured ones instead. All of the prayers and readings of the day are about rejoicing. Here is a choir, dressed appropriately in rose-coloured gowns, singing Gaudete, gaudete:

On the fourth Sunday of Advent we light another purple candle, a reminder that we need to make a last effort to prepare for Christmas; this candle represents peace. It is usually at this point that I realise that Advent is fast disappearing and I have been distracted from my intention of spending some time in quiet reflection each day. That is one good reason to have an Advent wreath or calendar in the house as well as in church, if you are like me you will need lots of reminders that this is a time to think about hope, love, joy and peace as well as the presents and parties.

Thanks to Val for this link to the BBC's Advent calendar, with music, poetry and readings for every day of Advent.


  1. Yes indeed, and this year although there are four Sundays, Advent is only three weeks, so get busy!! Lovely music

  2. Ah, Monix! I'm so glad you can spell Gaudete...d'y'know, I've read some blogs where the writer has added an extra "t"...blush, blush.

  3. DD- many a blush has been mine! At least you can amend posts but errors left in comments are there forever and that is my usual fate. With one T or two, I loved your post on Advent.

  4. Lovely post and lovely photo
    Thank you!
    Advent always seem to arrive before I expect's a very special time isn't it if I can only make time for it in the hurlyburly of life at this time of year...I love the BBC advent calendar found here


    if you paste that link back together again it should work
    I think I did something wrong first time..?

  6. Thanks for that link, Val. I'll add it to the main body of the post.

  7. Lovely! We didn't get an Advent wreath this year, but I did post about it another year:
    Last year our Advent wreath was the blog header for most of December.

  8. Thanks, Nan, I have just been over to look at that post, it contains all the history behind the Advent wreath so I hope anyone who wants to know more will follow the link.

  9. Belated thanks for the advent explanation. Now I understand why a friend was in a such a tizz over finding the right candles for her school's advent wreath.
    A propos correct Latin - having just listened to a rendering of Pie Jesu, are they really allowed to sing "dona-r-eis requiem"? I mean, intrusive r or what?? (Blogs are so good for giving vent to my pedantry!)

  10. Oh Alison, I can rant away about intrusive neutral vowels among the television weather men and women, then I could go on to .............
    You are right, blogging is an excellent forum for ranting.

  11. Following last night's Strictly, I'm using it to get something else off my chest - hope you'll take a look! Alison


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