Friday, November 30, 2012

What is an advent wreath?




30 November, 2012 (Romereports.com) With the arrival of Christmas, many Catholic families begin to decorate in preparation for the birth of Jesus. One of many holiday traditions still standing today, especially in Germany, includes the use of a decorative advent wreath.

Its origin is traced to Hamburg, in northern Germany. The children of an orphanage, excited about the arrival of Christmas, would ask how many days until it arrived. In 1839, the director took an old cartwheel and decorated it with small leaves. He added 24 candles, which they would light up each day, leading up to Christmas.

MONS. THOMAS FRAUENLOB
Collegio Teutonico del Campo Santo (Vatican)
“This idea is followed by a tradition with only 4 candles. It symbolizes the light that grows with each passing Sunday, until the moment the new year and the Savior are born.”

Each Sunday of Advent, a candle is lit, in the order of how one makes the sign of the cross. This continues until all four are lit, in anticipation of Christmas Eve. The circular shape of the wreath symbolizes a continuity, something without a beginning or end, used to describe God's love. The colors also have a special meaning.

MONS. THOMAS FRAUENLOB
Collegio Teutonico del Campo Santo (Vatican)
“In my are, in Bavaria, we have always had a green wreath that symbolizes life. You have to imagine a cold, frosty winter. The red candles symbolize charity, and also the light is slowly growing.”

Though red is one of the most commonly used colors, other also  use purple or white. The important thing, according to tradition, is to light them up each Sunday of Advent, to prepare for the arrival of baby Jesus.

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