The Advent wreath is a Christian tradition which symbolizes the four weeks of Advent. The word advent means preparing for the arrival of a noble person. In Christian tradition, Advent is recognizing the four Sundays leading up to Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Each Sunday is represented with the lighting of a candle.
A wreath is used to represent God (having no beginning or end). Evergreens are traditionally used in the wreath to represent life. Five candles are placed in the center of the wreath (3 purple, one pink, and one white).
First Sunday: Purple candle - Symbolizing hope (referred to as the Candle of Hope or Prophecy Candle)
Second Sunday: Purple candle - Symbolizing the coming of Jesus (referred to as the Bethlehem Candle, Candle of Preparation, or Candle of Peace)
Third Sunday: Pink candle - Symbolizing the angels singing of joy (referred to as the Shepard Candle or Candle of Joy)
4th Sunday: Purple candle - Symbolizing the love God gave to the world through Jesus (referred to as the Angel Candle or Candle of Love)
Christmas Day (sometimes lit on Christmas Eve): White candle - Symbolizing the purity of Jesus Christ (referred to as Christ Candle)
I explained each candle to the kids as we put the wreath together. I also explained that the Advent Wreath has a long history in European countries (one being Germany which is part of our heritage). They asked if anyone in our family had ever recognized this tradition. For some reason, if someone in our family has already done a particular tradition they feel it is that much more important. :) To their delight I explained that Great Grandma Esther (my mom's mother) would light an Advent Wreath each year (as my mom was growing up). That pretty much sealed the deal - they are hooked!
We also lit the first purple candle to make up for being a day late. :) They were so excited to place the wreath next to our Nativity scene. Throughout the afternoon I have noticed each of them quietly walking over and looking at our new addition.
P.S. If you noticed (and are wondering) why every single piece of our nativity is shoved in the stable the answer is: "There is a storm coming and we don't want anyone to get wet," said three children with huge imaginations!