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What Do the 3 Main Advent Candle Colors Mean?

Advent is a widespread tradition, especially among the Catholic faithful, and is the period before Christmas. It begins 4 Sundays before Christmas and is meant to herald the upcoming celebration of Jesus’ birth, the word ‘adventus’ meaning ‘coming.’ The most striking symbol of this period is the Advent wreath. What Do the 3 Main Advent Candle Colors Mean? Few people know, however, where the custom of having such a wreath originated and where it should be kept in the home. Reading this article, you will understand what the three primary Advent candle colors mean. And also about the origins of the Advent wreath.

The three Advent candles represent the three essential weeks of Advent and should be lit in a specific order. All four candles are placed on a wreath with three of one color, usually purple or violet, and one of one color, typically pink or rose or, in some traditions, white. The candles are placed in order, with the single-colored candle placed in the third order. Some people will also place a white candle in the middle of the wreath.

During Advent, in the vast majority of Christian churches, there is the beautiful custom of making a wreath (often of fir branches) on which four candles are placed, each of which is lit on the eve of each Sunday during this time. This wreath is a sign, an aid for Christians to better prepare for the feast of the Nativity. That is why it is good that we all know its history and significance so that we do not get caught up in the mirage of a beautiful and fascinating custom that has no relevance to souls. What Do the 3 Main Advent Candle Colors Mean, and what are their origins? 

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What was the original intent of the Advent wreath?

About the four Advent candles, it is also said that the first candle, the one lit today, is that of the prophet, the second of Bethlehem, the third is of the shepherds, and the last is of the angels.

The Advent wreath is a tradition born in the 19th century in Hamburg. In this city, many orphaned children had no home and lived begging and sleeping on the streets. Some became petty criminals and ended up in prison. A young evangelical pastor Johann Heinrich Wichern (1808-1881), bought a large house in Hamburg, renovated it, and began to gather children from the streets, giving them a roof and some food.

The year 1838 can be considered the year of the house’s foundation called “Rauhe Haus.” He taught those children a trade: some became shoemakers, others painters, gardeners, tailors… and in this way, they stopped begging and learned to earn their bread.

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What do you do on Advent?

The period before Christmas is also called Advent. This includes the four weeks of fasting leading up to the Nativity, weeks in which we should try to do as much good as we can, apologize if we have wronged anyone, and make amends for all the bad things we have done. What Do the 3 Main Advent Candle Colors Mean, and what do you do on Advent?

According to traditions from all over the world, at Advent, they prepare beautifully decorated wreaths made of fir branches, on which four candles are placed. These candles represent the four weeks remaining until the feast of joy, and one candle is lit every Sunday. This year the first Sunday of Advent is 27 November.

Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before 25 December, so the date differs from year to year between 27 November and 3 December. On each of the four Sundays of Advent, special services are held in preparation for Christmas, and families have a tradition of lighting a candle from the Advent wreath.

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According to the researchers, the significance of each three Advent candles is as follows:

1. Prophecy candle

The candle’s first purple, or violet, is the Candle of Prophecy, symbolizing God’s hope and forgiveness of man. It can also tell the expectation of the coming of the Messiah.

2. Bethlehem Candle

The second violet or purple candle symbolizes faith and reminds Catholics of Joseph and Mary’s experience in Bethlehem.

3. The Shepherd’s Candle

The third candle, which is pink or rose, represents Gaudette Sunday and the joy the birth of Christ brought to the world. Traditionally, on Gaudette Sunday, one takes a break from Advent fasting to experience the day’s joy. The Shepherd’s Candle is sometimes white instead of rose or pink.

If a white candle is included in the middle of the wreath, this candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and represents Christ and purity. The Christ candle is lit every night until the Feast of Epiphany, twelve days after Christmas.

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How many candles are on the wreath of Advent?

The successive lighting of the candles indicates the progressive approach of the Nativity of Jesus, the progressive victory of light over darkness. That is why it is good to light them in the evening, in the dark.

Originally the candles in the Advent wreath were three purple and one red, a total of 4: purple to indicate penance and conversion to God, red as a sign of joy at the imminent birth of Jesus; the red one is lit on the third Sunday of Advent, called Gaudete (rejoice). But they can all be white or in four different colors.

Each candle has its religious significance. According to tradition, the first is the prophet’s candle, the second the Bethlehem candle, the third the shepherds’ candle, and the fourth the angels’ candle.

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Key Verse related to Advent Candles

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleeps; The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevails, With peace on earth, good-will to men. By Advent candles, He shall light away.” 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What Do the 3 Main Advent Candle Colors Mean?