The Sacred Meaning Behind the Catholic Advent Wreath

By Divine Word Missionaries on November 21, 2023

Imagine a cozy living room on a crisp December evening, where the flickering light of candles bathes everything in a warm and inviting glow. On a table in the center of the room, a wreath of greenery is adorned with four candles. The air is filled with anticipation as a family gathers around the wreath, embracing the Christmas season.

The Catholic Advent wreath is a cherished tradition observed during the weeks leading up to Christmas. The Advent wreath serves as a spiritual compass on our journey in preparation for the nativity of our Lord.

It symbolizes hope, peace, joy and love through its four candles, each representing a week leading up to the birth of Christ. Let’s explore the origin of the Advent wreath, the meaning behind the candles and how we can use it to grow in prayer this Advent season.

The Catholic Advent Wreath Meaning and Origin 

The origin of the Advent Wreath can be traced back to pre-Christian Germanic cultures who would light candles during the winter solstice to honor the return of the light. This practice was adopted by Christians in the Middle Ages as a way to mark the season of Advent. 

The circular shape of the wreath represents eternity, reminding us of God's infinite love and presence in our lives. The greenery used to decorate it symbolizes everlasting life and hope given to us by Jesus. The lighting of the candles sequentially each week provides us with a tangible way to mark the passing of time and encourages us to reflect on the themes of hope, peace, joy and love.

What Do the Advent Candles Represent?

The hallmark feature of the Advent wreath is the four candles: three purple and one rose-colored. Each represents a special virtue that God prompts us to cultivate during the Advent season.  

The first candle, which is purple, represents hope. It reminds us of the unwavering hope we hold within us as we await the arrival of our savior. The second candle, also purple, signifies peace. It calls us to seek inner peace and also to spread peace to those around us,

The third candle, which is rose-colored, embodies joy. Lit on Gaudete Sunday, it serves as a reminder to rejoice that the coming of Christ is near.  The fourth candle, purple like the first two, represents love. It symbolizes the boundless love of God, which we are called to share with others.

On certain Advent wreaths, particularly those commonly seen in churches, a central white candle known as the Christ candle is sometimes lit on Christmas day, symbolizing the life of Christ.


How to Incorporate Your Advent Wreath Into Prayer This Christmas Season

During Advent, Catholics traditionally light the wreath at the start of their prayers, using it as a focal point for meditation on the season's meaning. Set aside a specific time each week to light the Advent wreath candles and pray, either before or after dinner or as part of your existing prayer routine. Once you have taken a moment to enter into prayer, contemplate the significance of each candle's theme.

You can also incorporate certain Advent wreath prayers during this time, including the Blessing of the Advent Wreath, Advent reflections or that Sunday’s scripture readings.

Grow in Hope, Peace, Joy and Love this Advent Season 

As the Christmas season unfolds, let us embrace the sacred meaning behind the Advent wreath and allow it to be a guide in our spiritual preparation for Christmas. To help prepare your heart for the birth of Jesus, we invite you to pray the Christmas novena alongside Divine Word Missionaries to approach the manager in reverence this year. 

Beginning on December 17, Gaudete Sunday, receive insights from the Scriptures and the saints and make a prayerful preparation for Christmas. Surrounded by the glow of your Advent wreath in the final weeks, you can pray our Christmas Novena, and ready your hearts to welcome our Savior.

Sign Up for the Christmas Novena




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