The Advent wreath, or Advent crown, is a Christian tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western church. It is traditionally a Lutheran practice, although it has spread to many other Christian denominations.
Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas and the return of Jesus at the Second Coming. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning "coming". The term "Advent" is also used in Eastern Orthodoxy for the 40-day Nativity Fast, which has practices different from those in the West.
Western Christianity is a branch of Christianity, composed of the Latin Church and Protestantism, together with their offshoots such as Independent Catholicism and Restorationism. The large majority of the world's 2.1 billion Christians are Western Christians. The original and still major part, the Latin Church, developed under the bishop of Rome in the former Western Roman Empire in Antiquity. Out of the Latin Church emerged a wide variety of independent Protestant denominations, including Lutheranism and Anglicanism, starting from the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, as did Independent Catholicism in the 19th century. Thus, the term "Western Christianity" does not describe a single communion or religious denomination, but is applied to distinguish all these denominations collectively from Eastern Christianity.
It is usually a horizontal evergreen wreath with four candles, sometimes with a fifth, white candle in the center. Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, the lighting of a candle can be accompanied by a Bible reading, devotional time and prayers.An additional candle is lit during each subsequent week until, by the last Sunday before Christmas, all four candles are lit. Many Advent wreaths include a fifth, Christ candle which is lit at Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The custom is observed both in family settings and at public church services.
In botany, an evergreen is a plant that has leaves throughout the year that are always green. This is true even if the plant retains its foliage only in warm climates, and contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season.
A wreath is an assortment of flowers, leaves, fruits, twigs, or various materials that is constructed to form a ring.
A candle is an ignitable wick embedded in wax, or another flammable solid substance such as tallow, that provides light, and in some cases, a fragrance. A candle can also provide heat, or be used as a method of keeping time. The candle can be used during the event of a power outage to provide light.
The concept of the Advent wreath originated among German Lutherans in the 16th Century.However, it was not until three centuries later that the modern Advent wreath took shape.
Research by Prof. Haemig of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, points to Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808–1881), a Protestant pastor in Germany and a pioneer in urban mission work among the poor as the inventor of the modern Advent wreath in the 19th century.During Advent, children at the mission school Rauhes Haus , founded by Wichern in Hamburg, would ask daily if Christmas had arrived. In 1839, he built a large wooden ring (made out of an old cartwheel) with 20 small red and 4 large white candles. A small candle was lit successively every weekday and Saturday during Advent. On Sundays, a large white candle was lit. The custom gained ground among Protestant churches in Germany and evolved into the smaller wreath with four or five candles known today. Roman Catholics in Germany began to adopt the custom in the 1920s, and in the 1930s it spread to North America. Professor Haemig's research also indicates that the custom did not reach the United States until the 1930s, even among German Lutheran immigrants.
Luther Seminary is a seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It is the largest seminary of the ELCA. It also accepts and educates students of 41 other denominations and traditions. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the Association of Theological Schools. It also has theological accreditation through the ELCA as well as the United Methodist Church.
Johann Hinrich Wichern was a founder of the Home Mission movement in Germany.
Rauhes Haus is a social service institution, founded in 1833 and located in Hamburg, Germany. It shelters and trains children, the mentally handicapped and disturbed, and cares for the aged. It also trains people for social service careers.
In Medieval times Advent was a period of fasting during which people's thoughts were directed to the expected second coming of Christ; but in modern times many have forgotten this meaning and it has instead been primarily seen as the lead up to Christmas, and in that context Advent Wreath serves as a reminder of the approach of the feast.
In 1964, an Advent crown made at home from wire coathangers and tinsel, appeared on the bi-weekly children's TV program Blue Peter . This 'make' became one of the program's most iconic, repeated each year, and was the introduction of this tradition to most of the broadly Anglican audience.In later years, the candles were replaced by baubles, out of concern over fire.
Blue Peter is a British children's television programme that was first broadcast in 1958. The programme, which has had continuous seasons since it was first aired, is now the longest-running children's TV show in the world. It was broadcast mainly from BBC Television Centre in London until September 2011, when the programme moved North to MediaCityUK in Salford, Greater Manchester. It is currently shown live on the CBBC television channel.
More recently, some Eastern Orthodox families have adopted an Advent wreath with six candles symbolizing the longer Christmas fast in Orthodox tradition, which corresponds to Advent in Western Christianity.
The Nativity Fast is a period of abstinence and penance practiced by the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, in preparation for the Nativity of Jesus. The corresponding Western season of preparation for Christmas, which also has been called the Nativity Fast and St. Martin's Lent, has taken the name of Advent. The Eastern fast runs for 40 days instead of four or six weeks and thematically focuses on proclamation and glorification of the Incarnation of God, whereas the Western Advent focuses on the two comings of Jesus Christ: his birth and his Second Coming or Parousia.
Advent wreaths are circular, representing God's infinite love, and are usually made of evergreen leaves, which "represent the hope of eternal life brought by Jesus Christ."Within the Advent wreath are candles that generally represent the four weeks of the Advent season as well as "the light of God coming into the world through the birth of Jesus Christ" although each of the candles has its own significance as well; individually, the candles specifically symbolize the Christian concepts of hope (week one), peace (week two), joy (week three) and love (week four) in many traditions. Many Advent wreaths also have a white candle in the centre to symbolize the arrival of Christmastide, sometimes known as the "Christ candle." It is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The Christ candle is coloured white because this is the traditional festal colour in the Western Church.
In many Catholic and Protestant churches, the most popular colours for the four surrounding Advent candles are violet and rose, corresponding with the colors of the liturgical vestments for the Sundays of Advent. For denominations of the Western Christian Church, violet is the historic liturgical color for three of the four Sundays of Advent: Violet is the traditional color of penitential seasons.Blue is also a popular alternative color for both Advent vestments and Advent candles, especially in some Anglican and American Methodist churches, which use a blue shade associated with the Sarum rite, in addition to Lutheran churches that also implement this practice. One interpretation holds that blue means hope and waiting, which aligns with the seasonal meaning of Advent. Rose is the liturgical color for the Third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday from the Latin word meaning "to rejoice"—also from the first line of the traditional entrance prayer (called the Introit) for the Mass or Worship Service of the third Sunday of Advent; it is a pause from the penitential spirit of Advent. As such, the third candle, representing joy, is often a different color from the other three.
In other Protestant churches, especially in the United Kingdom, it is more common for Advent wreaths to have four red candles (reflecting their traditional use in Christmas decorations).An Advent wreath given to Pope Benedict XVI of the Catholic Church also had four red candles.
In the UK, the four red advent candles are often linked to the Sunday Revised Common Lectionary readings for Advent, each candle representing those looking forward to the coming of Christ: the hope of all God's people (week one), the Old Testament prophets (week two), John the Baptist (week three) and Mary the mother of Jesus (week four).
In Making God Real in the Orthodox Christian Home, Anthony Coniaris states that an Orthodox wreath consists of six different colored candles on a round base to celebrate the six weeks of the 40-day Christmas and Advent period. A green candle, symbolizing faith, is lit on the first Sunday that begins on November 15; on the second Sunday, a blue candle, symbolizing hope, is lit; on the third Sunday, a gold candle, symbolizing love; on the fourth Sunday, a white candle, symbolizing peace; on the fifth Sunday, a purple candle, symbolizing repentance; on the sixth Sunday, a red candle, symbolizing communion.
The liturgical year, also known as the church year or Christian year, as well as the kalendar, consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons in Christian churches that determines when feast days, including celebrations of saints, are to be observed, and which portions of Scripture are to be read either in an annual cycle or in a cycle of several years.
A Paschal candle is a large, white candle used in liturgies in Western Christianity. A new Paschal candle is blessed and lit every year at Easter, and is used throughout the Paschal season which is during Easter and then throughout the year on special occasions, such as baptisms and funerals.
Christmas Eve is the evening or entire day before Christmas Day, the festival commemorating the birth of Jesus. Christmas Day is observed around the world, and Christmas Eve is widely observed as a full or partial holiday in anticipation of Christmas Day. Together, both days are considered one of the most culturally significant celebrations in Christendom and Western society.
Holy Week in Christianity is the week just before Easter. It is also the last week of Lent, in the West, – Palm Sunday, Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday – are all included. However, Easter Day, which begins the season of Eastertide, is not. However, traditions observing the Easter Triduum may overlap or displace part of Holy Week or Easter itself within that additional liturgical period.
The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a festive Christian season celebrating the Nativity of Jesus. In most Western ecclesiastical traditions, "Christmas Day" is considered the "First Day of Christmas" and the Twelve Days are 25 December – 5 January, inclusive. For many Christian denominations—for example, the Anglican Communion and Lutheran Church—the Twelve Days are identical to Christmastide, but for others, e.g., the Roman Catholic Church, Christmastide lasts longer than the Twelve Days of Christmas.
An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count the days of Advent in anticipation of Christmas. Since the date of the First Sunday of Advent varies, falling between November 27 and December 3 inclusive, many Advent calendars, especially those that are reusable, often begin on December 1, although those that are produced for a specific year often include the last few days of November that are part of the liturgical season. The Advent calendar was first used by German Lutherans in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Presentation of Jesus atthe Temple is an early episode in the life of Jesus, describing his presentation at the Temple in Jerusalem in order to officially induct him into Judaism, that is celebrated by many Christian Churches on the holiday of Candlemas. It is described in the chapter 2 of the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. Within the account, "Luke's narration of the Presentation in the Temple combines the purification rite with the Jewish ceremony of the redemption of the firstborn ."
Gaudete Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western Church, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, Lutheran Churches, and other mainline Protestant churches. It can fall on any date from 11 December to 17 December.
Saint Lucy's Day, also called the Feast of Saint Lucy, is a Christian feast day celebrated on 13 December in Advent, commemorating Saint Lucy, a 3rd-century martyr under the Diocletianic Persecution, who according to legend brought "food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs" using a candle-lit wreath to "light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible". Her feast once coincided with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year before calendar reforms, so her feast day has become a Christian festival of light. Falling within the Advent season, Saint Lucy's Day is viewed as an event signaling the arrival of Christmastide, pointing to the arrival of the Light of Christ in the calendar, on Christmas Day.
The Christkind is the traditional Christmas gift-bringer in Austria, Switzerland, southern and western Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Belgium, Portugal, Slovakia, Hungary, parts of northeastern France, Upper Silesia in Poland, parts of Hispanic America, in certain areas of southern Brazil, Quebec in Canada, and in the Acadiana region of Louisiana. In some parts of Italy, the analogous figure of the Christkind is known as Gesù Bambino, however Santa Claus is the traditional bearer of Christmas gifts. Christkind is called in Portuguese Menino Jesus, in Hungarian Jézuska, in Slovak Ježiško, in Czech Ježíšek, in Latin America Niño Dios or Niño Jesús and in Croatian Isusić or Isusek.
A Christmas decoration is any of several types of ornamentation used at Christmastime and the greater holiday season. The traditional colors of Christmas are pine green (evergreen), snow white, and heart red. Blue and white are often used to represent winter, or sometimes Hanukkah, which occurs around the same time. Gold and silver are also very common, as are other metallic colours. Typical images on Christmas decorations include Baby Jesus, Father Christmas, Santa Claus, and the star of Bethlehem. Typical winter icons include snowflakes, snowmen, icicles, and even penguins and polar bears.
Altar candles are candles set on or near altars for religious ceremonies. Various denominations have regulations or traditions regarding the number and type of candles used, and when they are lit or extinguished during the services.
Advent Sunday, also called the First Sunday of Advent or First Advent Sunday, among the Western Christian Churches, is the first day of the liturgical year and the start of the season of Advent.
A Chrismon tree is an evergreen tree often placed in the chancel or nave of a church during Advent and Christmastide. The Chrismon tree was first used by North American Lutherans in 1957, although the practice has spread to other Christian denominations, including Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists, and the Reformed. As with the Christmas tree, the evergreen tree itself, for Christians, "symbolizes the eternal life Jesus Christ provides". However, the Chrismon tree differs from the traditional Christmas tree in that it "is decorated only with clear lights and Chrismons made from white and gold material", the latter two being the liturgical colours of the Christmas season.
Weihnachten is the observance of what is commonly known in English as Christmas Eve in the German-speaking countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It is also widespread in countries with a German-speaking minority, such as Transylvania in Romania, South Tyrol in Italy, Eupen in Belgium, and various diasporas such as the German Brazilian and German American communities. Traditions of Weihnachten influenced Christmas and Advent culture throughout the world.
Carolyn Winfrey Gillette is a hymn writer and Presbyterian pastor. Gillette and her husband Bruce are the co-pastors of Overbrook Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania since April 2017.
Badnjak, refers to a log brought into the house and placed on the fire on the evening of Christmas Eve, a central tradition in Croatian Christmas celebration, much like a yule log in other European traditions. In Croatian the name for Christmas Eve is derived from the term badnjak. The log is cut with great ceremony on Christmas Eve morning, which for Roman Catholic Croats is December 24. The cutting, preparation, bringing in, and laying on the fire are surrounded by elaborate religious rituals, with many regional variations. The log is kept burning throughout Christmas Day.
The hanging of the greens is a Western Christian ceremony in which many congregations and people adorn their churches, as well as other buildings, with Advent and Christmas decorations. This is done on or directly before the start of the Advent season, in preparation for Christmastide. The service involves the placement of evergreen vegetation in the parish. Items such as the evergreen wreath, in Christianity, carry the religious symbolism of everlasting life, a theological concept within that faith. As such, during the liturgy, "Biblical passages and other readings help explain the significance of the holly, the cedar, the Advent wreath, the Chrismon tree, and any other special decorations". Christmas trees are frequently erected during the hanging of the greens, although they are sometimes left bare until Christmas Eve.
It apparently emanated from the Lutheran tradition, but it has been appropriated by almost all other traditions.
Historically, the Advent wreath is a Lutheran custom dating back three hundred years ago.
The use of an Advent Wreath originated a few hundred years ago among Lutherans in Germany.
Every day during Advent, the candle is lit and burnt down to the next number. In many homes, a reading from the Bible and a prayer accompanies the lighting of the candle.
The Advent wreath usually rests on a horizontal surface. This is especially appropriate when it is used in the home as the center for daily Advent devotions.
Finally, the light that has come into the world is plainly visible as the Christ candle is lighted at Christmas, and worshippers rejoice over the fact that the hope and promise of long ago have been realized.
It is believed that the European advent wreath began as a Lutheran innovation in the sixteenth century.
The first clear association with Advent is generally attributed to German Lutherans in the 16th century. However, another three centuries would pass before the modern Advent wreath took shape. Specifically, a German theologian and educator by the name of Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881) is credited with the idea of lighting an increasing number of candles as Christmas approached.
The wreath's circle reminds Christians of God's endless love and mercy. The evergreen leaves represent the hope of eternal life brought by Jesus Christ. The candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of Jesus Christ.
The first week of Advent we remember the gift of hope we have in Christ. ... The second week of Advent we remember the gift of Peace we have in Christ. ... The third week of Advent we remember the gift of Joy we have in Christ. ... The fourth week of Advent we remember the gift of Love we have in Christ.
Week one of Advent we light one candle on the Advent wreath and reflect on the gift of Hope. Week two we dedicate to Peace. Week three honors Joy. Week four, Love.
The Advent wreath, four candles on a wreath of evergreen, is shaped in a perfect circle to symbolize the eternity of God. In some churches, four purple candles, one for each week in Advent, are used with one larger white candle in the middle as the Christ candle. Other churches prefer three purple or blue candles with one candle being rose or pink, to represent joy. ...During each Sunday of the Advent season, we focus on one of the four virtues Jesus brings us: Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.
An Advent wreath is traditionally made of evergreens in a circle, symbolizing God's unending love. It includes three purple candles, and the candle for the third week of Advent is pink in most Advent wreaths. It signifies the hope of the coming of Christ, Baker said. "Hope is needed in our culture," Baker said. "People are struggling economically. People are in dire need of hope." For Christians, that hope comes from the birth of Jesus, he said. For the first week, there is one purple candle lit on the Advent wreath every day. Another is added the second week. A pink candle is lit the third week, another purple candle the fourth week. The three purple candles and the pink candle are all lit on the last Sunday before Christmas and throughout that week. A white candle at the center of most Advent wreaths, the Christ candle, is lit on Christmas day, Baker said.
In 2006 photographers snapped a few shots of the Advent wreath in Benedict XVI’s office. The German pontiff's wreath featured four red candles.
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