Thursday, December 10, 2015

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015 Edition Post # 10

From now and until Christmas Eve I will be participating in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, 2015 Edition by Thomas MacEntee and the Geneabloggers. If you would like to join you or want to know more about it please see this link.

Today's Christmas memory is about Christmas traditions. One of our family traditions is the Advent Wreath and the prayers associated with the lighting of the candles. 

The word Advent is from Latin and means to "arrive" or "coming" and it signifies the period of time that is taken to prepare for the birth of our Lord. Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent also signifies a new liturgical year in which the readings for Mass are changed. Advent is a time of penance but also a time of joy as we wait in anticipation of the birth of our Lord. 

My Christmas Memories of the Advent Wreath

Growing up in a Catholic family one of our biggest traditions is the lighting of our Advent wreath. There are three purple candles, one rose and/or pink candle, a white candle in the center and a wreath of evergreens. We always light ours just as we sit down to eat dinner as a family. In our home, my Dad would say the prayers for the lighting of the candles of our Advent wreath. However, my Dad traveled a lot for work and during those times when he wasn't there each of kids took turns during the week lighting the candles and Mom did the readings just as we sat down to eat. We would light the fifth candle on Christmas Eve after returning home from the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass at church and before we sat down to dinner.

The Symbolism of the Advent Wreath

The wreath is a circle and symbol of eternity a reminder that there is no beginning and no end very much like a wedding ring. The symbolism of circle reminds us of the eternity of God and the everlasting life we find in Christ.

There are different types of evergreens that can be used in the Advent wreath. For instance balsam fir trees represents anticipation. Pine trees and holly trees represent eternal life or immortality. Holly trees also have another significance and that is that the prickly leaves are a reminder of the Jesus's crown of thorns and the red berries that they grow are a symbol of his blood on the cross. Cedar trees are a symbol of eternal life. Pine cones and seedpods are signs of life and resurrection. When you take the meanings of these evergreens and you put them altogether I am reminded of a life found in Jesus Christ and all that is promised with his love and a wonderful season of hope.

Each candle in the Advent wreath represents 1000 years. When added together it marks the 4000 years in which humanity waited from Adam and Eve to the birth of Jesus. The  purple candle represents the prayer, penance and the preparations that are made during this time. The rose or pink candle is lighted on the third Sunday of Advent and represents the halfway mark of the Advent season. 

The first candle lit of the Advent season is known as "The Prophet's Candle". It is known as a symbol of hope and a reminder that Jesus is coming. The second candle lit of the Advent season is known as the "The Bethlehem Candle". It is known as a symbol of faith and love, a reminder of the journey to Bethlehem by Joseph and Mary. The third candle of the Advent season lit is known as "The Shepherd's Candle". It is known as a symbol of joy and a reminder of the coming birth of Jesus. The fourth candle of the Advent season is known as "The Angel's Candle". It is known as the symbol of peace and a reminder of the angel's message of peace on earth. The fifth candle of Advent Season is known as "The Christ Candle". It is known as the symbol of purity and a reminder of the purity of Jesus.

Filz, Gretchen, "Catholic Living: The Advent Wreath Tradition & Meaning", The Catholic Company ( : 5 December 2015).
Realy, Margaret Rose, "Holiday Greens Hold Many Meanings, Perfect for Season of Hope", p. December 10, 2010, Michigan Live ( : 5 December 2015)
Saunders, Rev. William P., "The History of the Advent Calendar", Catholic Education Resource Center ( : 5 December 2015).
The National Christmas Tree Association, Tree Varieties ( : 5 December 2015)

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