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Advent Customs and Traditions

 

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Back to the main Advent pageBack to Introduction to Advent

The Advent Wreath

The Advent Wreath is the widely recognized symbol of Advent.

Advent wreath with candles

The wreath is made of a circle of evergreen branches laid flat to symbolize eternal life. Four candles (traditionally red) stand in the circle and each one represents one of the four Sundays of Advent. In the centre of the circle is a fifth candle (traditionally white), the Christ Candle, which is lit on Christmas Day.

Why is the Advent Wreath so special to Christians?

The circle of the wreath reminds Christians of God, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end.

The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that Christians have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life.

Candles on the Advent Wreath

Advent worship is like a journey through the Christmas story. Christians use the Advent candles to celebrate this period with one lit every Sunday of Advent so that during the last week before Christmas all four candles are lit. The last central candle (which represents Christ), is lit on Christmas Day.

What do the Advent candles stand for?

Candles symbolise the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His son, Jesus.

Advent Wreath

The four traditional advent themes for the four advent Sundays are:

  1. God's people -The Candle of Hope.
    Hope is like a light shining in a dark place. As we look at the light of this candle we celebrate the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
  2. The old testament prophets - The Candle of Peace
    Peace is like a light shining in a dark place. As we look at this candle we celebrate the peace we find in Jesus Christ.
  3. John the Baptist - The Candle of Love
    Love is like a candle shining in a dark place. As we look at the light of this candle we celebrate the love we have in Christ.
  4. Mary the mother of Jesus - The Candle of Joy
    Joy is like a light shining in a dark place. As we look at this candle we celebrate the joy we find in Jesus Christ.

The fifth candle represents the birth of Christ. The flame of this candle remind us that He is the light of the world and that if we follow Him, we will never walk in darkness, but will have the true light of life.


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Advent Calendars

During Advent, some people make or buy Advent calendars as a way of counting the days to Christmas. Usually these calendars have twenty-four 'windows'.

The calendars do not necessarily start from the beginning of Advent. Advent Calendars always start on 1 December.

Traditional calendar windows open up to show a picture of something linked with this time of year. One may show an angel or one of the shepherds who visited baby Jesus. Others may show pictures of Christmas presents, a candle or anything else to do with Christmas. The last window to be opened usually shows Jesus himself, lying in a manger.

Popular advent calendars today usually have chocolate hidden behind each window. The theme/ picture displayed is a character from a TV show or film.

Click here to visit our interactive advent calendar

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All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the Mandy Barrow.

© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

I left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant.
I now teach computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.


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