During this Advent season, we are each encouraged to renew our faith as we await the birth of Christ. As individuals or as families we invite you to spend time together preparing for the approaching celebration of the birth of Christ. An Advent wreath can be a great focal point for family prayers and holiday celebrations.
An Advent wreath is a wreath of evergreen branches with four candles that are lit successively in the weeks of Advent to symbolize the light that the birth of Christ brought into the world. Traditionally three of the candles are purple, the color of kings and of penance. A rose-colored candle is used to mark the Third Sunday of Advent as a time to rejoice over the closeness of Christmas and the coming of Christ. The wreath itself is also symbolic. The circle of evergreen in which the candles are placed represents everlasting life. The seedpods, nuts and cones used to decorate the wreath are symbolic of resurrection and fruits represent the nourishing fruitfulness of the Christian life.
Gathering materials for the wreath – perhaps on an outing in the park or woods, or even in the backyard – and assembling it at home is an interesting family project in which even the youngest can participate. On Christmas Day, all the greens and decorations may be replaced with fresh ones and white candles symbolizing Christ are added to replace the colored ones and are burned throughout the Christmas season.
Blessing of the Advent Wreath
The Blessing of an Advent Wreath takes place on the First Sunday of Advent or on the evening before the First Sunday of Advent. When the blessing of the Advent Wreath is celebrated in the home, it is appropriate that it be blessed by a parent or another member of the family.
All make the sign of the cross as the leader says: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
With hands joined, the leader says:
Lord our God, we praise You for your Son, Jesus Christ: He is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples, He is the wisdom that teaches and guides us, He is the Savior of every nation. Lord God, let Your blessing come upon us as we light the candles of this wreath. May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation. May He come quickly and not delay. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The blessing may conclude with a verse from “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”.
O come, desire of nations, bind in one the hearts of humankind; bid ev’ry sad division cease and be thyself our Prince of peace. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
—From Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers