The Meaning Behind Advent Candles

During Advent and Christmas, festively decorated evergreen wreaths hang in windows and on doors everywhere. In many homes and churches, it’s also common to see special wreaths lying on tables or ledges, adorned with four candles (usually three purple and one pink). This familiar symbol of the season is the Advent wreath.

Traditionally, the Advent wreath is a circle of evergreen branches. Both the evergreen branches and the circular shape symbolize the passing of time and eternal life. The shape of the wreath, with no beginning or end, reflects the complete and endless love that Jesus has for us. During the Advent season, we eagerly anticipate his coming and the promise of eternal life in heaven with him.

The Four Advent Candles

As a Christian tradition, the wreath holds the four Advent candles. The candles represent Jesus coming as the light in darkness. One candle is lit each Sunday until all four candles are lit, and sometimes a fifth candle is lit on Christmas. As Christmas draws nearer, each candle brings a little more light into the darkness.

Each of the candles represents an aspect of preparation during the season of Advent:


Week One: The Candle of Hope

Color: Purple

Purple is the primary color associated with Advent. Within the Catholic Church it symbolizes penance, preparation, and sacrifice. During the first week of Advent, we look forward to Jesus’ coming with hope.

 

Week Two: The Candle of Peace

Color: Purple

During this second week of Advent, we reflect on our lives and work on becoming better-versions-of-ourselves in preparation for Jesus’ coming.

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Week Three: The Candle of Joy

Color: Pink

This third candle is pink, symbolizing anticipation and rejoicing. During the third week of Advent, we are filled with joy for the near arrival of Jesus on Christmas day.

 

Week Four: The Candle of Love

Color: Purple

During this final week of Advent we rejoice in the endless love that God has for us, which is made apparent in the birth of his Son:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

- John 3:16

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