What Do the Four Advent Candles Symbolize? Exploring the Meaning Behind Each Candle

The holiday season is upon us once again, and with it comes the tradition of Advent. It’s a time of anticipation and excitement, signaling the approach of Christmas. One of the most recognizable symbols of Advent is the lighting of four candles, each one representing a different aspect of the season. But what do these candles actually mean?

The first candle represents hope, reminding us of the promise of the coming Messiah. As we light the candle, we are filled with the certainty that our hope is not misplaced, that God’s word is true and that the promise of salvation will be fulfilled. The second candle represents peace, a reflection of the peace that Jesus brings and the peace we can find in Him. With each passing day of Advent, we move ever closer to the ultimate peace that comes with the birth of our Savior.

The third candle symbolizes joy, a reminder of the profound happiness we feel as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ. During Advent, we reflect on the many reasons we have to be joyful about our faith and the world around us. And finally, the fourth candle is a representation of love, the greatest gift of all. It reminds us of the ultimate sacrifice that God made for us, sending His only Son into the world to save us. These four candles offer a powerful reminder of the true meaning of the holiday season, a chance to reflect on the wonders of faith, hope, peace, joy, and love.

History of the Advent Wreath

The Advent wreath has become a popular symbol of the holiday season, but its roots date back to ancient times.

During pre-Christian times, people celebrated the winter solstice with evergreen boughs and wreaths as a symbol of the eternal cycle of life. With the arrival of Christianity, these practices were incorporated into the celebration of Advent.

The Advent wreath as we know it today was first used by German Lutherans in the 19th century as a way to mark the weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas.

What Do the Four Advent Candles Symbolize?

  • First Candle: The first candle, also known as the “Prophecy Candle” or “Hope Candle,” symbolizes hope. It represents the longing and anticipation for the coming birth of Jesus Christ.
  • Second Candle: The second candle, also known as the “Bethlehem Candle” or “Peace Candle,” symbolizes peace. It represents the preparation and reflection necessary to welcome Jesus into our hearts, homes, and communities.
  • Third Candle: The third candle, also known as the “Shepherd’s Candle” or “Joy Candle,” symbolizes joy. It represents the joy and exultation that comes with the knowledge that Jesus, the Savior, is near.
  • Fourth Candle: The fourth candle, also known as the “Angel’s Candle” or “Love Candle,” symbolizes love. It represents God’s unconditional love for humanity, manifest through the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Meaning Behind the Colors of the Candles

The colors of the candles on the Advent wreath also hold significance. The three purple candles represent penance, preparation, and sacrifice, while the pink candle represents the joy of the season.

In some traditions, a fifth candle, called the “Christ Candle,” is placed in the center of the wreath and is lit on Christmas day, symbolizing the birth of Jesus Christ.

Advent Wreath Traditions Around the World

Although the Advent wreath is most commonly associated with German and Scandinavian origins, it has since become a popular tradition in many cultures worldwide. In Mexico, for example, the wreath is made with evergreens and bright red poinsettias, while in Ethiopia, it is made with the native African plant Abyssinian pepper.

Country Traditions
Germany The Advent wreath is typically made with evergreen branches and four candles, often adorned with red ribbons and pinecones.
Sweden The Advent wreath, known as the “Julkrans,” is typically made with lingonberry branches, candles, and sometimes even small Christmas ornaments.
Italy The Advent wreath, known as the “Corona di Avvento,” is typically made with evergreen branches, candles, and various fruits and nuts.

Significance of the Advent Season

The Advent season marks the beginning of the Christian liturgical year and is celebrated in the weeks leading up to Christmas. During this time, Christians across the world prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by reflecting on the themes of hope, peace, joy, and love.

What do the Four Advent Candles Symbolize?

  • First Candle: Hope
  • The first candle, typically purple or blue, represents hope. This candle symbolizes the expectation and anticipation of the coming of Jesus Christ, as well as the hope and faith that we have in Him.

  • Second Candle: Peace
  • The second candle, also typically purple or blue, represents peace. This candle symbolizes the peace that Christ brings to our hearts and to the world as a whole. It also reminds us of the importance of working towards peace and justice for all.

  • Third Candle: Joy
  • The third candle, often pink or rose-colored, represents joy. This candle symbolizes the joy that comes with the knowledge of Christ’s imminent arrival, as well as the joy that He brings to our lives. It is a reminder to find joy in all circumstances, not just during the holiday season.

  • Fourth Candle: Love
  • The fourth candle, typically also purple or blue, represents love. This candle symbolizes the immense love that God has for humanity, and the great love that we are called to have for one another. It is a reminder to show love and kindness to all, especially during the Advent season.

The Advent Wreath

The four advent candles are traditionally displayed on an Advent wreath, which is a circular wreath made of evergreen branches. The circle represents eternity and the everlasting love of God, while the evergreen branches symbolize the hope of new life that Christ brings.

In addition to the four candles, the Advent wreath also often includes a fifth candle placed in the center, known as the Christ Candle. This candle is usually white and is lit on Christmas Day to signify the arrival of Jesus Christ.

Candle Week
First Candle First Week of Advent
Second Candle Second Week of Advent
Third Candle Third Week of Advent
Fourth Candle Fourth Week of Advent

Overall, the four Advent candles and the Advent wreath serve as powerful symbols of hope, peace, joy, and love during the holiday season. They remind us of the true meaning of Christmas and encourage us to focus on our faith and the values that are most important during this special time of year.

The First Candle: The Prophecy Candle

The season of Advent is marked by the lighting of four candles, each representing different symbols of the Christian faith. The first candle is known as the Prophecy Candle, which symbolizes the hope and anticipation of the coming of Jesus Christ.

  • The Prophecy Candle is usually purple or blue in color, which represents the royalty and majesty of Christ as the King of Kings.
  • The candle is also called the Candle of Hope, as it represents the hope that Christians have in the fulfillment of God’s promises.
  • The candle signifies the prophecies in the Old Testament that foretold the coming of the Messiah and the birth of Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate fulfillment of those prophecies.

The Prophecy Candle is the first candle to be lit on the Advent wreath, usually on the first Sunday of Advent. It is followed by the lighting of the other three candles – the Candle of Love, the Candle of Joy, and the Candle of Peace – leading up to Christmas.

The table below provides a summary of the significance of the Prophecy Candle:

Symbol Meaning
Purple/blue color Royalty and majesty of Christ as the King of Kings
Candle of hope Represents the hope that Christians have in the fulfillment of God’s promises
Prophecies in the Old Testament Foretold the coming of the Messiah and the birth of Jesus Christ

In essence, the Prophecy Candle represents the beginning of a season of anticipation and waiting for the arrival of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. It reminds us of the promises that God has made to His people and the hope and joy that we can experience through Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection.

The Second Candle: The Bethlehem Candle

The second candle in the advent wreath is called the Bethlehem Candle. It symbolizes the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem in preparation for the birth of Jesus. This candle also represents the humble and ordinary beginnings of the savior, as he was born in a stable and laid in a manger.

  • The Bethlehem Candle is usually lit on the second Sunday of Advent, also known as the candle of Preparation or the candle of Faith.
  • It is often purple, representing the royalty and majesty of Christ, as well as his suffering and sacrifice.
  • The candle is also sometimes decorated with images of the Nativity, such as angels, shepherds, and the holy family.

The journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem is a reminder of the importance of preparation and faith in our own spiritual journeys. Just as they trusted in God’s plan for their lives, we too can find hope and peace in knowing that God has a purpose for us and will provide for our needs. As we light the Bethlehem Candle on the advent wreath, we are reminded of the miracle and wonder of Christ’s birth, and of the love and grace that he brings to our lives.

In many churches, the lighting of the advent candles is accompanied by scripture readings and prayers. Some churches also incorporate other symbols, such as the Star of Bethlehem, into their services. The table below shows the traditional colors and meanings of the four advent candles:

Week Candle Color Meaning
1st Hope Candle purple Hope
2nd Bethlehem Candle purple Preparation or Faith
3rd Shepherd Candle pink Joy
4th Angel Candle purple Love

As we light each candle in the advent wreath, we are reminded of the hope, preparation, joy, and love that we celebrate during the Christmas season. The Bethlehem Candle is a powerful symbol of Christ’s birth and the significance that it holds for our faith. May we be filled with this same sense of wonder and awe as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus this year.

The Third Candle: The Shepherd’s Candle

The Third Candle of the Advent Wreath is known as the Shepherd’s Candle. It represents the joy that the shepherds felt when they heard the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ. The shepherds were simple people who lived in the fields, and they were the first to receive the news of the birth of the Savior. The Shepherds Candle is traditionally pink or rose-colored, and it is lit on the third Sunday of Advent.

  • The third Sunday of Advent is also known as Gaudete Sunday, which means “rejoice” in Latin. This day marks the midpoint of the Advent season and is a time of celebration and joy.
  • The Shepherd’s Candle reminds us to be joyful in anticipation of the coming of Christ. We are called to share this joy with others as the shepherds did on that first Christmas night.
  • Just as the shepherds left their flocks to go and see the newborn king, we too are called to leave behind the things that distract us and focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

The Shepherds Candle also represents the humble nature of those who first heard the Good News. The shepherds were common people who lived simple lives. They were not wealthy or powerful, but they were chosen to hear the message of the angels. This reminds us that in God’s eyes, we are all equal and we are all important.

As we light the Shepherd’s Candle on the third Sunday of Advent, we are reminded of the joy and humility that characterized the first Christmas. We are called to share this same sense of joy and humility with others, and to prepare ourselves to receive Christ anew in our hearts and in our lives.

Symbol Meaning
Pink/Rose Color Joy and anticipation
Shepherds Humble and simple people who were the first to receive the Good News of Christ’s birth
Gaudete Sunday Midpoint of the Advent season, marked with celebration and joy

In conclusion, the Shepherd’s Candle on the third Sunday of Advent represents the joy, humility, and anticipation of the Christmas season. It reminds us to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and to share our joy with others, just as the shepherds did on that first Christmas night.

The Fourth Candle: The Angel’s Candle

The fourth candle in the Advent wreath is often called The Angel’s Candle. It represents the angels who announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in Bethlehem. This candle is usually purple or blue, symbolizing royalty and the night sky.

  • The Angel’s Candle is also sometimes called the Candle of Love, as the angels’ message was one of love and good news for all people.
  • In some traditions, the fourth candle is pink instead of purple or blue. This pink candle represents joy and is lit on the third Sunday of Advent, also called Gaudete Sunday, which means “rejoice” in Latin.
  • The Angel’s Candle reminds us of the importance of spreading love and joy during the Christmas season. Just as the angels brought good news to the shepherds, we too can share joy and hope with those around us.

The fourth candle represents the role of angels in the Christmas story and in Christian tradition. Angels are seen as messengers of God, bringing messages of hope, peace, and love to humanity. The Angel’s Candle reminds us that we can all be messengers of God’s love in our daily lives.

As we light the Angel’s Candle, we are invited to reflect on the message of the angels and on the love and joy that Christmas brings. It is a time to celebrate the hope that comes with the birth of Jesus and to share that hope with those around us.

Candle Color Symbolism
First Candle Purple Hope
Second Candle Purple Peace
Third Candle Pink or Purple Joy
Fourth Candle Purple or Blue The Angels

The Angel’s Candle is a reminder that we can all be messengers of love and hope in our world. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us share that hope with those around us and spread the message of peace, joy, and love.

The Color of the Advent Candles

The four Advent candles, traditionally used during the season of Advent, have various symbols that depict the different aspects of the holiday season. One of the most significant things that people look forward to during Advent is the lighting of candles, which marks each week’s celebration and symbolizes the coming of the Messiah. This article will delve into the different meanings of the Advent candles, particularly their colors:

Number Seven:

  • The number seven is associated with completeness and wholeness, and it is considered a holy number in many religions.
  • There are seven days in a week, and seven is also the number of sacraments recognized by the Catholic Church.
  • The number 7 is also used to represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are wisdom, understanding, counsel, Fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

The First Candle – Purple

The purple candle is the first candle to be lit during Advent, and it symbolizes hope. Purple is also associated with royalty and represents Christ as King. The color purple, therefore, is a reflection of the expectation and anticipation of Christ’s arrival.

The Second Candle – Purple

The second candle to be lit during Advent is also purple, and it represents faith. It signifies that the faithful need to cultivate their trust in God’s promise and their belief in the coming of Christ. By lighting this candle, Christians are reminded of the importance of having faith in a world that often lacks hope.

The Third Candle – Pink

The third candle, also known as the Gaudete candle, is pink. It represents joy and serves as a reminder that the waiting period is almost over. Pink or rose is often used to signify a sense of rejoicing, and it symbolizes that the birth of Christ is near.

The Fourth Candle – Purple

The fourth and final candle to be lit is purple, just like the first and second candles. This candle represents peace and reflects the harmony of achieving a complete spiritual cycle. It signifies that with the birth of Christ, all is right in the world, and the darkness has been defeated.

Advent Candle Color Symbolic Meaning
Purple (First, Second, Fourth Candle) Hope, Faith, and Peace
Pink (Third Candle) Joy

The color of the Advent candles represents a powerful symbolism that helps people celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. With each passing week, the Advent candles light the way towards the coming of Christ.

Different Traditions and Interpretations of the Advent Candles

The use of Advent candles varies depending on custom and interpretation amongst different churches and communities. Here are some unique traditions:

  • Four Weeks of Preparation: The most common interpretation of the Advent candles is based on a four-week preparation for Christmas. Each candle is lit in sequence – purple, purple, pink, and purple – during the four Sundays of Advent to represent Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, respectively. Some churches also light a fifth white candle on Christmas day to represent the birth of Jesus.
  • Three Purple and One Rose: In some Christian denominations, the third candle is rose instead of pink and is seen as the halfway point in the Advent season. It signifies a shift towards a more meditative reflection on Christ’s coming and prepares believers to look inward in order to prepare for Christ’s birth and second coming.
  • Eight Days of Hanukkah: Celebrated around the same time as Advent, Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that lasts eight days. Jewish Advent candle sets often correspond with Hanukkah and have eight candles rather than four. One candle is lit on the first night of Hanukkah and another is added each night until all eight are burning brightly. It’s a reminder of the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days in the Temple.

Here’s a table that lists each candle, its symbolism, and the meanings attributed to each candle for the most common interpretation of the Advent candles:

Candle Color Symbolism Meaning
1st Purple Hope We set our eyes on the hope we have in Christ’s return.
2nd Purple Peace We recognize our need for Christ’s peace in our lives.
3rd Pink/Rose Joy We celebrate the joy that comes as we wait on God.
4th Purple Love We focus on Christ’s perfect love and rejoice that he came to Earth out of love for us.

The Advent candles provide a beautiful and historic way to prepare our hearts for Christmas. Whether celebrated through the traditional four weeks of preparation or through unique interpretations and customs, the candles remind us to savor the anticipation of Christ’s birth and to reflect on His love, grace and redemption.

The Liturgical Use of the Advent Candles

The advent wreath, often adorned with four candles, symbolizes the anticipation of Christ’s coming into the world. The wreath is a representation of Christ’s infinite love and mercy towards humankind. The candles serve as a tangible representation of the four weeks leading up to Christmas, with each candle lighting up on a specific Sunday in December. These candles symbolize the hope, love, joy, and peace that Christ brings into the world.

  • Week 1 – The Candle of Hope: The first candle represents the hope that Jesus’ arrival brings to a hurting world, reminding us of the anticipation of his birth in the Old Testament and the promise of his second coming. It serves as a reminder that with Christ, there is always hope for the future, no matter how dark the present may seem.
  • Week 2 – The Candle of Love: The second candle represents love, the central theme of the Christian faith. As we light this candle, we are reminded of God’s incredible love for us, as seen in his sacrifice to redeem us from our sins. This candle also reminds us to share that same love with those around us, especially during the holiday season.
  • Week 3 – The Candle of Joy: The third candle represents joy, a feeling that should always be present in the hearts of believers. As we light this candle, we celebrate the coming of the One who brings us everlasting joy and happiness. We also share in the joy of his coming by reaching out to others, loving them as Christ loves us.
  • Week 4 – The Candle of Peace: The fourth candle represents peace, a gift that only Christ can truly bring. As the Prince of Peace, Jesus’ arrival ushers in a world of harmony, tranquility, and wholeness. This candle reminds us to embrace that peace in our lives and to share it with others, especially during times of unrest or turmoil.

The candles, with their respective symbols, combined with the advent wreath, convey a message that is both uplifting and challenging. It calls Christians to remember the reason for the season and to live in a manner consistent with the teachings and values of Christ. Because the season can easily be overshadowed by the commercialism of Christmas, it is important for worshippers to take time to reflect on the true essence of Advent.

Week Candle Color Symbolic Theme
1 Purple Hope
2 Purple Love
3 Pink (or Rose) Joy
4 Purple Peace

The Advent candles and wreath serve as a vital tool for Christians to spiritually prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ. It serves as a symbol of everlasting hope, a love beyond measure, a joy beyond understanding, and a peace that passes all understanding. By lighting these candles, we honor the coming of the Light of the World, our Savior, who came to redeem all of humanity.

Contemporary Adaptations of Advent Candles in Worship Services

The use of advent candles during worship services has been a long-standing tradition in many churches. As time passes, contemporary adaptations of this tradition have emerged, allowing for a more modern approach to the traditional use of candles. Here are some of the contemporary adaptations of advent candles in worship services today:

  • Use of Electric Candles: Some churches are opting to use electric candles as a safer and more convenient alternative to traditional candles. These electric candles can be lit and extinguished with the flick of a switch, eliminating the need for matches or lighters. Additionally, they can be reused year after year.
  • Virtual Advent Wreath: As technology advances, more churches are adding a virtual advent wreath to their worship services. This can be displayed on a screen or projected onto a wall, making it visible for all to see. Some churches even incorporate interactive virtual candles, allowing members to light the candles virtually.
  • Colors and Themes: While the traditional colors of advent candles are purple, pink, and white, some churches are incorporating different colors to represent different themes. For example, a blue candle may represent hope, a green candle may represent peace, and a red candle may represent love.

These contemporary adaptations of advent candles allow churches to maintain the tradition while also adapting to modern times and making the experience more accessible and engaging for members.

Additionally, the use of advent candles in worship services can be further enhanced by incorporating a deeper understanding of the symbolism behind each candle. Here is a breakdown of the symbolism represented by each candle:

Candle Color Symbolism
First Candle Purple Represents hope and anticipation
Second Candle Purple Represents peace and preparation
Third Candle Pink Represents joy and rejoicing
Fourth Candle Purple Represents love and fulfillment
Fifth Candle White Represents Christ, the light of the world

By gaining a deeper understanding of the meaning behind each candle, members can fully immerse themselves in the tradition and embrace the true significance of advent.

What do the four advent candles symbolize?

Q: What is advent?
Advent is the four-week period before Christmas, celebrated by Christians as a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ.

Q: What are the four advent candles?
The four advent candles represent hope, peace, joy, and love.

Q: What does the first advent candle symbolize?
The first advent candle, which is usually purple, symbolizes hope.

Q: What does the second advent candle symbolize?
The second advent candle, which is also purple, symbolizes peace.

Q: What does the third advent candle symbolize?
The third advent candle, which is pink, symbolizes joy.

Q: What does the fourth advent candle symbolize?
The fourth advent candle, which is also purple, symbolizes love.

Q: Is there a specific order in lighting the advent candles?
Yes, the advent candles are traditionally lit in the order of hope, peace, joy, and love.

Closing Thoughts

We hope this article has shed light on the symbolism behind the four advent candles. As you prepare for the holiday season, keep in mind the messages of hope, peace, joy, and love represented by each candle. Thanks for reading, and be sure to check back for more engaging and informative content!