The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful and has been a part of our Christian tradition for centuries. The light itself signifies Christ, the Light of the world. The wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life. 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.
The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. 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 of Advent… this very Sunday… and is meant to be a time 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 in great glory.
Since Advent is a time to “stir-up” our faith in the Lord, the wreath and its prayers provide us a way to augment this special preparation for Christmas. Moreover, this good tradition helps us to remain vigilant in our lives and in our relationships, and not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas.
Saunders, The Rev. William Saunders, “The History of the Advent Wreath.”