What Do the Candles Symbolize in Advent: Exploring the Meaning Behind Each Candle

Winter is here, and with it comes one of the most beautiful holidays of the year – Advent. But what’s the significance of the candles that we light up during the Advent season? These candles symbolize so much more than just a light in the darkness. They represent hope, love, joy, and peace, all of which are crucial elements of the Advent season.

Going back in history, the tradition of lighting candles during the Advent season dates back to the Middle Ages. People would light candles in their homes to symbolize the coming of Christ, who was believed to be the light of the world. Later, the four candles, which represent each of the four weeks of Advent, were introduced to signify the different elements of the season. With each week, an additional candle is lit, and each candle holds a specific meaning and intention.

In modern-day celebrations, the first candle lit during the Advent season represents hope, the second symbolizes love, the third candle represents joy, and the fourth candle signifies peace. As each candle is lit, it reflects the growing anticipation and celebration leading up to Christmas, which is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The use of candles in the Advent season is not just about creating a cozy, warm atmosphere, but it’s also about remembering the true essence of the season – hope, love, joy, and peace.

Origin of Advent Wreath

The Advent Wreath is a beloved symbol of the Christian tradition that is used during the four weeks of Advent, the period leading up to Christmas. The wreath consists of four candles that are placed around a circular wreath of evergreen branches. One candle is lit each week to mark the passage of time before Christmas.

The origins of the Advent Wreath can be traced back to Germany in the 16th century, where Lutherans would place candles on a wreath made of evergreen branches. The custom spread throughout Europe over the centuries and eventually made its way to North America.

What Do the Candles Symbolize?

  • The first candle, which is lit on the first Sunday of Advent, symbolizes hope.
  • The second candle, which is lit on the second Sunday of Advent, symbolizes peace.
  • The third candle, which is lit on the third Sunday of Advent, symbolizes joy.
  • The fourth and final candle, which is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent, symbolizes love.

The Significance of Evergreen Branches

Evergreen branches, which are used to make the wreath, symbolize eternity and everlasting life. The circular shape of the wreath represents the unending love of God, which has no beginning or end. The candles represent the light of God shining in the darkness of the world, and the gradual lighting of each candle symbolizes the growing anticipation of the coming of Christ.

The Colors of Advent

In addition to the candles, the colors of Advent also have symbolic meaning. The traditional colors of Advent are purple and pink, with each color corresponding to a specific week. The first, second, and fourth weeks are represented by the color purple, which symbolizes repentance and the solemnity of the season. The third week is represented by the color pink, which symbolizes joy and rejoicing.

Week Color Symbolic meaning
First week Purple Repentance and solemnity
Second week Purple Repentance and solemnity
Third week Pink Joy and rejoicing
Fourth week Purple Repentance and solemnity

The Advent Wreath is a beautiful and meaningful symbol of the Christian faith that reminds us of the hope, peace, joy, and love that Christ brings into the world. As we light each candle in the weeks leading up to Christmas, let us remember the true meaning of the season and the gift of salvation that Christ offers to all of us.

The Four Advent Candles

The Advent wreath is a symbol of hope, faith, joy, and peace, and its light serves as a reminder of the impending arrival of the holiday season. It is comprised of four candles, each representing the four weeks leading up to Christmas day.

  • The first candle, usually lit on the First Sunday of Advent, represents hope.
  • The second candle, lit on the Second Sunday, represents faith.
  • The third candle, lit on the Third Sunday, represents joy.
  • The fourth and final candle, lit on the Fourth Sunday, represents peace.

As each week passes, an additional candle is lit until all four candles are aglow on Christmas day.

The number two subsection focuses on the second Advent candle, which symbolizes faith. Faith is the foundation of Christianity, and it is essential to remember that the true meaning of Christmas lies in the birth of Jesus Christ, the foundation of faith for Christians.

Week Candle Symbol
1 Hope The Weeping Prophet
2 Faith The Virgin Mary
3 Joy The Shepherds
4 Peace The Magi

The second Advent candle is often purple, symbolizing both the royalty of Jesus Christ and the bruising He endured for humanity’s sins. This candle, like the others, reminds Christians of the humble beginnings of Jesus and the hope and faith His birth, life, and death bring to the world.

Colors of Advent Candles

Advent is a time of anticipation and preparation for the coming of Christ. As such, every detail is significant, including the colors of the candles used in the Advent wreath. Here’s a closer look at what the colors of Advent candles symbolize:

  • Purple: The first and third candles of the Advent wreath are traditionally purple. Purple symbolizes royalty and repentance. During the Advent season, we focus on preparing our hearts for the coming of Christ, and that includes repentance for our sins.
  • Pink: The third candle in the Advent wreath is often pink, representing joy. This candle is lit on Gaudete Sunday, a day of rejoicing in the midst of our preparation for Christmas.
  • White: The center candle in the Advent wreath is typically white, symbolizing purity and the light of Christ. This candle is often called the Christ candle and is lit on Christmas Eve or Day to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

The Number 3

The use of three purple candles and one pink or white candle in the Advent wreath is no accident. The number three carries great significance in Christianity. For example, there are three persons in the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Theologically, the three purple candles can, therefore, represent the three virtues, faith, hope, and love, while the pink or white candle represents joy.

In addition to its theological significance, the number three can also be seen in the symbolism of time. There are three types of time: past, present, and future. During Advent, we reflect on the past promises of God, celebrate the present coming of Christ in his birth, and look forward to the future second coming of Christ as the King of Kings.

The use of three candles also emphasizes the importance of community during Advent. We light the Advent candles as a community, and together we reflect on the significance of Christ’s coming. The three purple candles remind us to walk together in faith, hope, and love, while the pink or white candle reminds us to rejoice together in the love of Christ.


The colors of Advent candles and the use of three purple candles and one pink or white candle are significant in the Christian faith. They remind us to repent, rejoice, and look forward to the coming of Christ. As we light the candles each week, we are invited to reflect on the significance of Advent, prepare our hearts, and celebrate together as a community.

Candle Color Symbolism
1st Purple Repentance and royalty
2nd Purple Repentance and royalty
3rd Pink Joy
4th White Purity and the light of Christ

As the Advent season approaches, may we be reminded of the significance of the colors of Advent candles and the number three in our journey towards the coming of Christ.

The Meaning behind each Advent Candle:

Advent Candles are an essential part of the Christmas celebration. The ritual of lighting the candles every Sunday signifies the anticipation and the preparation of the coming of the Lord. The candles symbolize the four weeks of Advent, each with a different meaning.

The Meaning Behind Each Advent Candle:

  • The First Candle: The first candle represents Hope. It is also known as the Prophecy Candle, and it signifies the anticipation of the arrival of the Messiah. The color purple symbolizes Hope and laments the sinful condition of the world.
  • The Second Candle: The second candle represents Love. It is also known as the Bethlehem Candle, and it symbolizes Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. The color purple represents Love and the sacrifice that Christ made for humankind.
  • The Third Candle: The third candle represents Joy. It is also known as the Shepherd’s Candle, signifying the joy that the shepherds felt upon hearing the good news of the Messiah’s birth. The color pink signifies Joy, and it contrasts the somberness of the previous two weeks.
  • The Fourth Candle: The fourth candle represents Peace. It is also known as the Angel’s Candle, symbolizing the Angels who announced the good news of the Messiah’s birth. The color purple signifies Peace and the coming of the Prince of Peace.

The Significance of Lighting the Advent Candles:

Lighting the Advent Candles every Sunday marks the anticipation of the birth of Christ. Each candle represents a week leading up to the celebration of Christmas Day. The ritual serves as a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas and encourages believers to embrace the Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace that Christ brings.

The Candle Lighting Ceremony:

The Candle Lighting Ceremony is a meaningful ritual where each of the Advent Candles is lit, symbolizing the weeks leading up to Christmas Day. The ceremony usually takes place during church service every Sunday before Christmas. A blessing is given while the candle is being lit, and the congregation sings Christmas Carol hymns. As the final candle is lit during the fourth week, the church is filled with light, reminding believers that Christ is the Light of the World.

Candle Week Color Symbolism
First Candle Week 1 Purple Hope/Prophecy Candle
Second Candle Week 2 Purple Love/Bethlehem Candle
Third Candle Week 3 Pink Joy/Shepherd’s Candle
Fourth Candle Week 4 Purple Peace/Angel’s Candle

The lighting of the Advent Candles is a powerful reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. It invites us to reflect on the concepts of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace, and to embrace the coming of the Messiah.

Candle Lighting Order during Advent

In the Christian tradition, Advent is the season of spiritual preparation that begins four Sundays before Christmas. It is a time of reflection, waiting, and anticipation. Advent wreaths are a common sight in Christian churches and homes during this period. The wreath is usually made up of evergreen branches and four candles, with one candle being lit on each Sunday leading up to Christmas. Each candle symbolizes different virtues and meanings, representing various aspects of the advent of Christ.

  • First Sunday: The first candle is called the ‘Prophecy Candle,’ or the ‘Candle of Hope.’ It signifies the waiting and anticipation of Christ’s coming. It represents the Old Testament prophets who foretold the coming of a Messiah.
  • Second Sunday: The second candle is called the ‘Bethlehem Candle,’ or the ‘Candle of Preparation.’ It symbolizes the preparations being made to welcome the Christ child and represents the love of Mary and Joseph for the baby Jesus.
  • Third Sunday: The third candle is called the ‘Shepherd’s Candle,’ or the ‘Candle of Joy.’ It represents the joy felt by the shepherds who received the news of Christ’s birth. It is a reminder that the coming of Christ brings joy into the world.
  • Fourth Sunday: The fourth candle is called the ‘Angel’s Candle,’ or the ‘Candle of Love.’ It signifies the message of the angels who announced the birth of Christ. It represents the love of God for humanity and the anticipation for Christ’s arrival.

The lighting of these candles is usually performed at the beginning of a church service or in the home during family devotion time. One candle is lit on each Sunday, and the fifth candle, known as the ‘Christ Candle,’ is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. This candle represents the birth of Christ and the arrival of hope and salvation for humanity.

Advent wreaths come in different shapes and styles, each with its own unique symbolism. Some wreaths have three purple candles, one rose or pink candle, and one white candle, while others use all white candles. In some cases, a fifth blue candle is included to signify the anticipation of Christ’s second coming.

Candle Sunday Symbolism
Prophecy Candle First Hope and anticipation
Bethlehem Candle Second Preparation and love
Shepherd’s Candle Third Joy and gladness
Angel’s Candle Fourth Love and peace
Christ Candle Christmas Eve/Day Birth of Christ and hope for humanity

Overall, the lighting of candles during Advent symbolizes the hope, love, joy, and peace that Christ brings to the world. It is a reminder that the true meaning of Christmas is not in the gifts we receive, but in the gift of God’s love and salvation through Christ’s birth.

Importance of Candle Illumination in Advent Wreath

The Advent season is marked by the erection of the Advent wreath, which is composed of several elements that come together to tell the story of Christ’s coming and coming again. One of the most important aspects of the Advent wreath is the candles which symbolize different aspects of the season.

  • The First Candle: Also known as the Prophecy Candle, the first candle symbolizes hope. The purple color of the candle serves as a reminder of the royalty of Christ, and the hope of the world for his return.
  • The Second Candle: The Bethlehem Candle or the Love Candle symbolizes the love of God for his people, meeting them in the person of Jesus. The second candle is also traditionally purple
  • The Third Candle: Known as the Shepherd Candle or the Joy Candle, the third candle symbolizes the joy that the world experienced when they received the savior. It’s pink or rose color denotes the significance of the Gaudete Sunday which means Sunday of rejoicing.
  • The Fourth Candle: The final purple candle is known as the Angel Candle or the Peace Candle, which symbolizes the peace that the birth of Christ brought to the world.
  • The Fifth Candle: Lit on Christmas Eve, the white candle signifies purity and Christ as the light of the world.
  • The Sixth Candle: Some Advent wreaths have a white candle in the center, known as the Christ Candle, which is lit at the end of the Advent Season. It symbolizes the light of Christ coming into the world.

The candles represent the promise of Christ’s coming in the Gospel stories, and the colors of the candles and their order draw from the roots of medieval liturgy. The lighting of each candle on the wreath represents the coming of light and hope into the world.

The light of the candles in the Advent wreath helps to symbolize the light of Christ coming into the world. The progressively lit candles help create anticipation for the coming of Christ. It also reminds us of the darkness that existed before the first advent and the light that entered the world once Jesus was born. By lighting the candles and focusing on the light of Christ, we are reminded of the hope, love, joy, and peace that Christ brings to our lives.

Candle Color Symbolism
First Candle Purple Hope and Prophecy
Second Candle Purple Love and Peace
Third Candle Pink Joy and Rejoicing
Fourth Candle Purple The Shepherd’s Candle and Peace
Fifth Candle White Christ’s Purity and Light as the World’s Light
Sixth Candle White Christ Candle and represents the Coming of Light

In essence, the Advent wreath with its beautiful candles reminds us that God is the God of light who comes into our darkness and illuminates our path. The lighting of the candles is intended to focus our attention on that light, and to help us prepare for the arrival of the King of Kings.

Differences between Advent Candles and Christmas Candles

Advent and Christmas candles represent different aspects of the holiday season. Advent candles light the period preceding Christmas, while Christmas candles honor the birth of Jesus Christ. Advent candles are usually set up in a wreath, with four candles symbolizing hope, peace, joy, and love. As the weeks of Advent pass, one more candle is lit. On the other hand, Christmas candles are often decorated with images of stars, angels, or other symbols of the holiday, and are lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.

  • Advent candles are lit one by one as the weeks of Advent pass, whereas Christmas candles are typically lit all at once on Christmas Day
  • Advent candles are often set up in a wreath, while Christmas candles are often standalone candles
  • The four Advent candles symbolize hope, peace, joy, and love, whereas Christmas candles honor the birth of Jesus Christ

Another difference between Advent and Christmas candles is the number of candles. An Advent wreath typically has four candles, while Christmas candles can come in a variety of numbers, from one to nine or more. The number seven, for example, is often considered a sacred number in Christianity, symbolizing completeness and perfection.

Number of Candles Symbolism
1 Unity
2 Union
3 Trinity
4 The four weeks of Advent
5 The five wounds of Christ
6 The six days of creation
7 Completeness and perfection
8 New beginnings
9 Fruit of the Spirit

While both Advent and Christmas candles carry significant symbolic value, understanding the differences between the two can help you better appreciate the meanings behind candle lighting during the holiday season.

Types of Candles for Advent

Advent is the season of waiting and preparation for Christmas. One of the ways Christians mark the season is through the use of candles, which are lit on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. The symbolism of the candles is rich and meaningful, reflecting themes of hope, love, joy, and peace. Here are the different types of candles that are typically used for Advent:

  • Traditional Advent Wreath Candles – These are the most common type of Advent candle. They are usually arranged in a wreath and come in a set of four, with each candle representing one of the four Sundays of Advent. The wreath itself symbolizes the eternal nature of Christ, as it has no beginning or end.
  • Pillar Candles – These are large, thick candles that can be placed in a holder or on a platform. They come in a variety of colors and can be used to complement the traditional Advent wreath candles.
  • Taper Candles – These are long, thin candles that are typically used for decoration. They can be placed in candlesticks or holders, and are often used to create a festive atmosphere during the holiday season.
  • Christ Candle – This is the fifth candle that is traditionally used on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. It is often white or gold, and represents the light of Christ coming into the world.

One interesting aspect of Advent candles is the number of candles used each week. The first week of Advent uses one candle, the second week uses two, the third week uses three, and the fourth week uses four. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the increasing anticipation and excitement as Christmas approaches.

The colors of the candles also have symbolic meaning. The traditional colors are purple and pink, with the Christ candle being white or gold. Purple represents preparation and penance, while pink symbolizes joy and celebration. The Christ candle represents the light of the world and the hope of salvation.

Candle Week Color Symbolism
First Week Purple Hope and Expectation
Second Week Purple Love and Preparation
Third Week Pink Joy and Rejoicing
Fourth Week Purple Peace and Promise
Christ Candle White/Gold The Light of the World, Hope of Salvation

In conclusion, the use of candles during Advent is a rich and meaningful tradition that has been passed down through generations. The different types of candles and their symbolism provide a unique way to reflect on the themes of the season and prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ.

How to Make an Advent Candle

If you want to celebrate Advent with a more personalized touch, you can make your own Advent candles. Here are the step-by-step instructions:

Materials Needed

  • 4 taper candles, one in each of the traditional Advent colors: purple, purple, pink, and purple
  • 25 thin candles in white or ivory
  • Candle wax or beeswax
  • Candle wick
  • Candle mold (optional)
  • Candle fragrance (optional)


To make an Advent candle:

  1. Melt the candle wax according to the package directions, or use beeswax for a more natural option.
  2. Once the wax has melted, add a candle fragrance if desired and stir it in well.
  3. If using a mold, place the candle wick in the center of the mold and pour the melted wax into the mold. Allow it to cool and harden overnight.
  4. If making a free-standing candle, dip each of the 25 thin white or ivory candles one at a time into the melted wax, allowing them to cool and harden between each dip. This will create a thick outer coating around each candle.
  5. Wrap the 24 white or ivory candles with the purple and pink taper candles, securing them in place with a rubber band or string.
  6. Place the wrapped candles on a candle holder and light one candle on the first Sunday of Advent, adding one more candle each week until all four purple candles and the pink candle are lit.

Additional Tips

When making your own Advent candles, don’t be afraid to get creative with the wax colors or mold shapes. For example, you can add glitter or other embellishments to the melted wax before pouring it into the mold. You can also use a candle mold in the shape of a Christmas tree or an angel for an especially festive touch.

Advent Week Candle Color Symbols and Meanings
Week 1 Purple Hope
Week 2 Purple Peace
Week 3 Pink Joy
Week 4 Purple Love

Remember, the Advent candles are a symbol of the hope, peace, joy, and love leading up to the birth of Jesus. No matter how you make your Advent candles, be sure to light them with intention and mindfulness throughout the season.

Unique Candle Display Ideas for Advent

Advent is a time of anticipation leading up to Christmas, marked by the lighting of candles. The candles represent a variety of symbols, such as hope, peace, joy, and love, depending on the traditions of the individual church. In this article, we will explore some unique candle display ideas for Advent that will help you make the most of this special season.

  • Advent Wreath: The classic Advent wreath has four candles – three purple and one pink – arranged in a circle, with a white Christ candle in the center. This simple yet beautiful display can be made even more special with the addition of natural elements like pine branches and holly berries.
  • Advent Calendar: An Advent calendar is a fun way to count down the days until Christmas, and many designs incorporate candles. One idea is to create a hanging Advent calendar with small jars or votives for each day, each filled with a small treat or token for the day’s recipient. The votive candles can add a warm, cozy glow to the display.
  • Candlestick Holders: While most Advent displays use votive candles, you can also mix things up with different types of candlesticks and holders. One idea is to use tall, taper candlesticks in different shades of purple, with simple metal or glass holders to catch the drips. You could also use a mix of candlesticks and votive holders to create height and interest.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, here are a few additional ideas:

Alternative Candles: If you’d like to shake things up a bit, consider using nontraditional candles for your Advent display. For example, you could use battery-operated candles for a safer alternative, or soy-based candles for an eco-friendly option.

Multiple Displays: Who says you have to stick to just one Advent display? You could create multiple smaller displays throughout your home, each with their own unique style and color scheme. This is a great option if you have a larger home or want to involve your kids in the decorations.

Crafty Creations: Finally, don’t be afraid to get crafty with your Advent decorations! There are endless DIY projects you can try, such as painting and decorating your own candlesticks, creating custom jars for your Advent calendar, or even weaving your own Advent wreath from natural materials like grapevines or moss.

Display Idea Description
Paper Bag Lanterns Fill small paper bags with sand or gravel for weight, then add a tea light inside each one. Arrange in a circle for a cozy, rustic vibe.
Wooden Centerpiece Use a piece of reclaimed wood or a wooden tray as the base for your Advent display, then add candles, greenery, and other accessories to create a custom look.
Hanging Candles Instead of placing candles on a table, try hanging them from the ceiling or a nearby tree branch for a more dramatic display.

There are so many ways to celebrate the Advent season with candles, from traditional displays to creative and unexpected ideas. Whatever your style and traditions, don’t be afraid to experiment and make this season truly special.

What Do the Candles Symbolize in Advent?

1. Q: What is Advent?
A: Advent is the period of four weeks leading up to Christmas, representing the preparation for the birth of Jesus.

2. Q: How many candles are there in an Advent wreath?
A: An Advent wreath typically has four candles, one for each week of Advent.

3. Q: What does each candle represent?
A: Each candle represents a different aspect of the Christian faith. The first candle represents hope, the second represents faith, the third represents joy, and the fourth represents peace.

4. Q: What is the fifth candle in Advent?
A: The fifth candle is sometimes added to the Advent wreath and represents Christ, also known as the “Christ Candle.”

5. Q: Why are the candles lit in a specific order?
A: The candles are lit in a specific order to symbolize the progression of Advent and the growing anticipation for the birth of Jesus.

6. Q: What color are the Advent candles?
A: The color of the candles varies depending on the tradition, but they are typically purple or blue, with the fifth candle being white.

7. Q: Can non-Christians participate in the Advent tradition?
A: Yes, anyone can participate in the Advent tradition and light candles to represent their own beliefs and values during this festive season.

Thanks for Reading!

We hope this article has shed some light on the meaning behind the candles in Advent. Whether you are a devout Christian or simply enjoy participating in festive traditions, the Advent wreath is a beautiful and meaningful symbol of preparation, hope, faith, joy, peace, and the birth of Jesus. Thanks for reading and be sure to visit again for more articles on topics related to holiday traditions and celebrations. Happy Advent!