What is it with that candle thingy?
I have actually heard people ask me this when they have come over to my house or that of my Mom's. Usually it commences with Mom explaining the meaning of the advent wreath and why ours is a little different from most. (I will get to that in a minute.)
The ring of greenery symbolizes eternity, no beginning or ending and the color itself is hope of the newness.
Four outer candles represent the four Sundays in advent prior to Christmas Day. According to this web site it is literally the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the actual birth.
The colors of the candles vary depending on churches and traditions. Generally today we see three purple and one pink or blue. The candles have been known to represent different aspects of advent as well like;peace, love, hope and joy.
Some wreaths have an inner candle which represents Jesus birth. A birthday candle you might say. ;)
What kinds of traditions do I have?
From the time I was born to now, my Mother always had an advent wreath in our home. However, our wreath looked (and still does) like this:
|My son (left) and nephew on Christmas Day. You can see that all the candles are now lit.|
|My niece prior to the lightening of the advent wreath a few year back.|
This tradition carried over in to our home and each week was observed with each of us four kids coming up with some kind of small service. This could include a song or short prayers. Mom and Dad always lit the center candle and we had a small service to thank the Christ child for coming in to the world. This was done before opening of presents (as it is today with all the extended family) because it showed the importance of the day.
When we were teens, my Mom was going to go with the three purple and pink candles for the wreath. We threw fits and that year we ended up having two separate wreaths. She never tried changing it again. It is our tradition and is loved to this day.