Perhaps you’ve been wondering about the Advent Wreath which we light each week.
The Advent wreath, like many of our customs at Christmas traces its origins to pre-Christian times when candles were lit during the winter to the ‘sun god’ asking for light. It was the Lutherans who started the Advent wreath as a Christian custom. The word “advent” comes from the Latin term for arrival or “coming.” It is the season when we await the coming of the Lord in time and at the end of time. The Advent wreath usually has four candles, and they are lit on the Sundays of Advent. The first candle, called the Prophets Candle is lit on the first Sunday of Advent, then the second candle called the Bethlehem Candle, is lit on the second Sunday, along with the first, On the third Sunday of Advent a pink candle, called the Shepherd’s Candle, is lit representing “Rejoice” Sunday, and then the fourth candle, called the Angels Candle, is lit on the last Sunday of Advent. Sometimes a white candle is placed in the centre of the wreath and is called the Christ candle. A different explanation of the meaning of the candles can sound like the greetings we use in our Christmas cards. This explanation says the candles represent “hope, love, joy, and peace”.
From Liturgical Bits and Bytes