Today we celebrate the beginning of Advent. One of the symbols of Advent is a wreath:
The origins of the advent wreath are found in the folk practices of the pre-Christian Germanic people who, during the cold December darkness of Eastern Europe, gathered wreaths of evergreen and lighted fires as signs of hope in a coming spring and renewed light. By the Middle Ages, Christians used wreathes as part of their spiritual preparation for Christmas. By 1600, both Catholics and Lutherans had more formal practices surrounding the Advent wreath.
The wreath itself is usually made of pine or cedar sprigs which are drawn into a circle symbolizing God's eternity. Affixed to the wreath are four candles; three purple and one rose or pink, which are lit one on each of the four Sundays. The rose candle anticipates and symbolizes the Christmas joy announced in the first word of the Entrance Antiphon: Rejoice (Latin, Gaudete). For this reason the Third Sunday is also called Gaudete Sunday, and rose colored vestments are often used.
Sometimes a fifth white candle is placed in the center of the circle and is lit on Christmas Eve. The wreath has always been a sign of glory and victory while the light from the candles, gradually increasing every week, symbolically dispels the darkness. As the candles burn, they visibly mark the passing of time until Christmas Day.
Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.
The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
he guides the humble in the right path;
he teaches his way to the poor.
His ways are faithfulness and love
for those who keep his covenant and will.
The Lord's friendship is for those who revere him:
to them he reveals his covenant.
Advent photo and article courtesy of
Sooner Catholic Online