|What is Advent?|
|The Christian season of Christmas actually begins on Christmas Eve and lasts for twelve days, ending on January 6. (No, the twelve-day season of Christmas did not start with the song. It was the other way around.) The time before Christmas is Advent, a season of preparation for Christmas. Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “visit.” In the season with this name, we keep in mind both “advents” of Christ, the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come.|
|What Colors are used in Advent?|
|There are a few other things about Advent, besides its themes, that you might find odd if you’re unfamiliar with the season. The strangest might be the Advent color scheme. We associate Christmas and the weeks leading up to it with typical Christmas colors: red, green, white, silver, and gold. Advent, on the other hand, features purple (or dark blue) and pink. The purple/blue color signifies seriousness, repentance, and royalty. Pink points to the minor theme of Advent, which is joy. For many observers of Advent, the first, second, and fourth Sundays of Advent are “purple/blue” Sundays. Only the third is a “pink” Sunday. The pink, joyful color reminds us that, even as Advent helps us get in touch with our sober yearning for God to come to us, we know that he did in fact come in the person of Jesus.|
A traditional Advent wreath contains four candles, spaced around the body of an evergreen wreath. Three of the candles are purple, and the fourth is pink. A fifth candle is optional and can be placed in the center hole; its preferred color is white.
|What do the four advent candles stand for?|
|Though the modern calendar year begins on January 1, many Christians know that the church year truly begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas--the first day of Advent. To celebrate the season, Christians join in the tradition of the Advent wreath. But what is the story behind the wreath, and what do the four Advent candles represent?|
|Each of the four candles represents one of the four Sundays before Christmas. The lighting of the candles is, therefore, a form of countdown to Christmas. If there is a fifth candle, it represents Christ and should be lit on Christmas Day.|