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Let’s talk about Advent candles. Back in the 1700s it was popular to burn down 24 little candles – one a day – to count down the days throughout December. It was also tradition for churches throughout Europe to display a green wreath with four big candles in it. The first candle was lit on the first Advent, the first and second candles were lit on the second Advent, the first, second and third candles were lit on the third Advent, and all four candles were lit on the fourth Advent. These four candles each had a separate meaning:
- The first candle represents hope: it is the “Prophet’s Candle” reminding everyone that Jesus is coming
- The second candle represents faith: is the “Bethlehem Candle” reminding everyone of Mary and Joseph’s long journey to Bethlehem
- The third candle represents joy: is the “Shepherd’s Candle” reminding everyone of the joy which would be brought by Jesus’ birth
- The fourth candle represents peace: is the “Angel’s Candle” reminding everyone of the angels’ message: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”
The wreaths often featured a fifth candle in the middle or separately which is lit on Christmas Day to represent the coming of Jesus – the light of the world. In Germany this fifth candle is lit on Heiligabend (Christmas Eve).
Whilst this tradition originated in churches, many German households have their own Advent Wreath. It is, as is tradition, a green wreath, often decorated with ribbons, coloured pinecones (such as silver or gold), dried fruit and holly leaves. Families and friends often gather on the Sundays leading up to Christmas and enjoy eating cake and drinking coffee or hot chocolate whilst watching the candles on the Advent wreath burn.
Information and images retrieved from: