The Advent season is an important part of the Christmas holidays for many Christians around the world. It is a time to prepare for the actual Christmas celebration, and it is filled with its own unique traditions. This includes the Advent wreath and its color palette of purple, pink, and white candles. These colors were not randomly chosen for this special time of year. Each color represents a specific part of the Advent season.
What is Advent?
It helps to know what Advent is when determining what each Advent color means. Many people see the Advent season as a very special part of the Christmas celebration. It begins on the first day of the Liturgical calendar. It falls on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Advent lasts for four weeks, and it is considered a period of preparation for the coming nativity.
Advent is a time for reflection. This is when you prepare your home and heart for the birth of Christ in our modern world. It is a time set aside to think about the true meaning of Christmas with music, prayer, reflection, and good deeds.
Most importantly, it reminds Christians to step back from the commercialism. During the hectic holiday season, it is nice to take a break from shopping and gatherings to remember the birth of Jesus. One can also celebrate the expected return of Jesus with the second coming during this time.
The Advent Wreath
The Advent wreath is the most important tradition of Advent. The wreath, as well as the candles, are full of symbolism. The wreath itself, which is made of several evergreen varieties, symbolizes continuous life. The circular shape has no beginning or end. This signifies an everlasting life found in Christ, the eternity of God, and the immortality of the soul.
The evergreens used are specifically chosen for their meanings. Laurel represents victory over persecution and suffering. Holly, pine, and yew represent immortality. Cedar represents strength and healing.
Pine cones are used to signify life and resurrection. Altogether, the greens of the Advent wreath are used as a reminder of God’s promise of everlasting life found with Christ.
Advent Candle Colors
There are specific colors used when choosing the candles that will be placed in the Advent wreath. These colors include purple, pink, and white. Each color signifies a specific element that believers use when preparing themselves spiritually for the Christmas holiday.
There are four or five candles on a modern-day Advent wreath. One candle is lit each Sunday during the Advent season. You can take a greater appreciation in this tradition once you understand the meaning behind the colors of these candles.
Purple is the primary color of the Advent season. It is used to symbolize repentance and fasting. Denying yourself a portion of food or some other type of pleasure is a way to show your devotion to God, and it is thought to be a way to prepare for the second coming. Purple is used during Lent as well, which is a season similar to Advent when it comes to self-denial, repentance, spiritual readiness, and reflection.
Purple is commonly used to represent royalty. This makes it the perfect color to celebrate the “King of Kings.” When viewed in this way, purple is seen during Advent as a symbol of the coming of the King.
In our modern world, many churches have started to use blue instead of purple for their Advent celebrations. They have done this to separate the Advent season from Lent. Purple is heavily used during the Lent season to represent royalty along with grief.
The Advent wreath’s first candle is purple. It is considered the Prophecy Candle or the Candle of Hope. The second candle is also purple. It is the Bethlehem Candle or Candle of Preparation. The fourth candle is purple as well. This is the Angel Candle or the Candle of Love.
Pink is saved for the third Sunday during the Advent season. This specific Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday by the Catholic Church. Pink, like purple, is also a part of Lent. It is used on Laetare Sunday, which is also referred to as Refreshment Sunday or Mothering Sunday.
Pink radiates joy and warmth. It is used during Advent to mark the shift from repentance to rejoicing in the season. The third candle on the Advent wreath is pink. It is the Shepherd Candle or Candle of Joy.
During the Advent season, white is used to symbolize purity, restoration, light, and holiness. White also represents victory.
Jesus is the savior. He is considered to be sinless, pure, and spotless. He is seen as a light coming into a dark world. In the Bible, Jesus is often described as being in radiant white robes and shining with a bright light. In addition, white is the color worn by those that are washed of their sins and receive Jesus Christ as their savior.
The fifth candle on the Advent wreath is the Christ Candle. It is found in the center of the wreath, and it is white. It is seen as a symbol of the purity found in the birth of Christ.
Why Not Red and Green?
Many people immediately think of red and green as the Christmas season approaches. These colors are more secular. They come from European traditions that include using holly and evergreens to represent life and hope associated with the birth of Christ. Many churches will use these colors to decorate for the Christmas season, but they are not used as liturgical colors during the Advent season. This is because they are saved for other times during the church year.
A New Respect
Regardless of your religious beliefs, it is always easier to respect certain traditions if you understand the symbolism of these special times. The colors purple, pink, and white have deep meanings when it comes to celebrating the Advent season. Used as the colors of the candles in the Advent wreath, the wreath becomes the centerpiece of this particular time of reflection and celebration.