What is the meaning of the candles in the Advent Wreath?

The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word meaning “coming.”

The Advent wreath–4 candles on a wreath of evergreen–is shaped in a perfect circle to symbolize the eternity of God. Three of the candles are purple in keeping with the color of the Advent season and, on the third Sunday of Advent (called Guadete Sunday–meaning “Rejoice“), a rose or pink candle is used to represent joy. There is also a white candle added on Christmas Eve which is the Christ candle.

The Advent wreath is part of the long-standing Catholic tradition that came to be used as part of spiritual preparation for Christmas around the Middle Ages. At that time, the candles had a two-fold purpose: to symbolize the coming of Christ as well as to bring light to the interior of the churches.

During each Sunday of the Advent season, we focus on one of the four virtues Jesus brings to us: Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. As an alternative, the lighting of the candles can also symbolize: Expectation, Hope, Joy, and Purity.

The lighting of the Christ candle on Christmas Eve reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world. During the four weeks of Advent, the wreath continually reminds us of who we are called to be as followers of Jesus.

We wish you a Happy Advent Season!