Making Advent Wreaths

Catherine Fournier

We place our Advent wreath on our dinner table every evening through the season of Advent. We eat by its light alone. In the December darkness, the Light of God is brighter by contrast. On the first week, the single candle seems very feeble and lonely. It reminds us of the faithful all over the world who are living in isolation or hostility. On the second week, there are two lights and we remember that Christ said; "Where there are two or more of you gathered in my Name, there also shall I be." On the third week, we light the pink candle. We know Christmas is closer and we think about the three members of the Holy Family. Finally all four candles are lit. We can see by their light to read the Nativity narratives from our Bible.

A visitor to our site contributed this insight: "I was told that (this is from a Catholic perspective) that the candle lit on the third week of Advent is a different color than the rest, because it stands as the sign that Light overcomes darkness.
When the first two candles are lit there are still two dark, it is half and half, but when the third is lit Light wins!

On Christmas Day, we replace the pink and purple candles with white ones. Our Advent wreath stays on the table for the Christmas season, the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany. Now, the candles symbolize our joy at the coming of Christ and our prayers of thanksgiving to God.

There are many ways to construct an Advent wreath. They can be simple or elaborate, made from fresh material or from artificial greenery. It is important to use something green which symbolises the new life brought to us by the birth of Jesus, and that it be circular as a reminder of eternity.

A fresh wreath requires:

  • shallow bowl or dish,
  • oasis (also known as florist's foam, it is available from any florist),
  • three purple candles,
  • one pink candle,
  • four white candles,
  • pine or cedar boughs, or ivy.

Make the wreath by first soaking the oasis in warm water until it is completely saturated. Fit it into the bowl, carving it and packing it in tightly as necessary so that it will not shift around.

Then carve four holes in the oasis for the candles. Place the candles in the holes you have made and begin sticking greenery into the oasis to completely cover it. It's nice to have some trailing over the edges of the bowl, and closely packed around the candles to hide all the foam.

Keep the foam well watered, and try not to let the candles burn down so low that they scorch the greenery, and the wreath will last from the first Sunday of Advent until Epiphany.

A more permanent wreath requires:

  • a plate or tray,
  • a four candle candelabra or four small candle sticks,
  • three purple candles,
  • one pink candle,
  • four white candles,
  • artificial garland, holly branches, branches from an artificial tree, or some other artificial greenery.

To make the wreath, arrange the candlesticks or candelabra on the tray. The tray allows the wreath to be moved easily. Then place the greenery around the candles in a pleasant arrangement. It can be embellished with red berries, a small creche, ribbons or whatever else is available.

Bless your wreath on the first Sunday of Advent by sprinkling it with holy water and saying a short prayer (Dads, this is your part!). We repeat the blessing each Sunday.

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