Advent Sunday begins a new liturgical year, as we count down to the Festival of Christ’s Nativity on Christmas Day. This Sunday we mark this new beginning with the Great Litany followed by lighting the first candle of the Advent wreath. The children will lead into the mystery of the birth of Christ as they light the Advent candles each week in celebration of our faith as Christians.
What does each of the candles mean? There are a total of five candles which represent the coming of the light of Christ into the world: three purple, one pink and one white.
On the first Sunday of Advent, the first purple candle is lit. This candle is typically called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. This candle represents hope or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah. On the second Sunday the second purple candle is lit and represents love. Some traditions call this the “Bethlehem Candle,” symbolizing Christ’s manger. On the third Sunday of Advent the pink, or rose-colored candle is lit. This pink candle is customarily called the “Shepherds Candle” and it represents joy. The fourth and last purple candle represents peace. On Christmas Eve, the white center candle is traditionally lit. This candle represents the life of Christ that has come into the world.