Advent is here!
Every year, around this time, I get ready to fill in the kids’ Advent calendar. It has been like this in our home since forever it seems. When I was little, I would wake up on December 1st, very excited to see Santa had come and put up these nice calendars for us. I never asked myself where all this came from, it just did.
What is Advent and what does it mean?
This year, I got curious and found out what is behind the tradition of Advent. “Advent” means “coming” or “arrival”. It is a time used to reflect on the first coming of the Christ and to renew longing for the second coming. I must admit that I was not raised in a very religious home. We were pretty much free to believe in whatever we wanted. But this does make sense in light of what I know from Catholic religion. If we go deeper into the origins of Advent, we can see that it is a very complex and varying subject, differing from one religion to another, and from one country to another. So I will keep here to a more actual version of it, in the Catholic religion, pretty much on the West side of the World…
From what I learned, the calendar can be related to the wreath with candles we still light up. It was made up to help impatient kids to count down the days before Christmas. It once had 19 small candles and 4 larger ones, that were meant to be lit on Sundays. Nowadays, most crowns we still use only have the four large candles. I feel our calendar replaced the 19 small candles and we kept the candles that have a more profound meaning. Advent starts on the Sunday closest to November 30th. This year, that would be December 3rd.
Each candle has different meaning
I will try to summarize what I have found. Now, it may well be possible that in your home or community, some other meanings exist as it seems to have gotten more personal over the years.
The first candle, usually violet, can be seen as the symbol of the forgiveness granted to Adam and Eve. This candle also has been called that of hope. It may be linked to the first of the four stages of human history, the Creation.
The second candle, violet as well, is the symbol of faith of those who believe in the gift of the Promised Land. This candle is for some that of Bethlehem, or of the prophets. It is linked to the second stage of human history, the Incarnation.
As for the third candle, this one is special. In fact, it usually is of a more rose color. It reminds us of the joy of the wait almost being over, the joy of David whose lineage doesn’t stop. It is linked to the third stage, the Redemption of sins.
Last and not least, the fourth candle, violet again. This one is called the Angel’s candle, since it is related to the annunciation of Christ’s birth. It is a symbol of the prophets announcing a reign of peace and of justice. It is also linked to the last stage of human history, the Last Judgment.
What about the wreath?
As you read, there are a lot of symbols out there, differing from one person to the next. Even the actual wreath has a multitude of hidden meanings. Its green color is a sign of hope and life. Did you ever notice that the fir (strength), laurel (victory over sin and suffering) and holly (the thorns of the Christ’s crown) used to make the wreath don’t lose their leaves? It’s not only practical, it also symbolizes the eternity of God. Even the flames have a special meaning, representing the fight against darkness, bringing hope and peace. The round shape is related to the sun, and to the fact that it does return every year. The number four can be found many times on the wreath, symbolizing the four weeks of Advent, cardinal points and seasons.
Knowing all this, I will not look at wreaths in a solely, “Hey, cute!”, kind of way. It seems that when crafting one, there is nothing random. Everything has its place and meaning. This year, I know a little more, that is already something! 😉
My first Advent gift to you
As you know, my mission is to support you craftily in your personal and business needs. As such, I am giving away one ticket to the Prairie Blooms by Becky Christmas Wreath & Door Swag Workshop being held Dec. 6th or Dec 10th, 2017. During this workshop, you will be creating your own fresh Christmas wreath and door swag, now knowing what lays behind it. Click on her events to find out more or to register now to book your spot.
How do you win? Just comment on this original post and share your own Advent traditions. Did any of this reflect what you were brought up on, or is it a completely different point of view? Draw will be done on Sunday Dec. 3, 2017.
Until next time, Craft On and be Merry!