Over the years wreath-making in parish halls on the first Sunday of Advent provided me with two things: 1) a circular metal or styrofoam form with fresh, fragrant greens and four candles and 2) a serious sense of failure when I couldn’t assemble them into a beautiful or even tolerable-looking Advent wreath. Finally I trashed the form and gave myself permission to place four candles in a circle or in a row on a table. I scattered greens and wove ribbon around the candles. The result didn’t look bad at all.
The four purple or blue candles of the Advent wreath mark the four Sundays and four weeks before Christmas. Some people like to use a pink candle for the third Sunday to mark the halfway point to Christmas. The traditional color for Advent, purple, represents reflection, repentance, and royalty. Many churches and people use blue instead as a symbol of hope, joy, expectation, and Mary.♦
Here here are some examples of some not so fancy Advent wreaths. All you need are four candles in holders and a few other things. Remember to be careful with the lighted candles. Clear away greens and paper first and never leave the lighted wreath unattended.
The “Go Local” Advent Wreath
Since I’m away from home for Advent and Christmas this year and have none of my usual ornaments and decorations, I treated our family to some special, funky Advent candles.♦ Outside of our condo, typical Colorado foliage and plants grow. I found sage, grasses, and evergreens to place around the candles. Some interesting stones, old pine cones, and a hunk of dead wood from outside are also scattered about.
The Messy, Participatory Advent Wreath
Give children or adults the opportunity to make the wreath. Place a piece of white butcher paper or poster board under the candles. Provide stickers, markers, ribbon, colored paper and let them create. This could also function as an Advent calendar. Each day add a doodle or something purple or blue from around the house.
The Indecisive Advent Wreath
If you’re not sure which color candles to use–blue or purple and/or pink– use all three. The greens around the candles shown here include rosemary and tarragon from the refrigerator, sprays of greens and pinecones from a branch that fell from a tree, and cuttings from Christmas trees found in a trash can near our local grocery store.
Paper Chain and Recycled Candles Advent Wreath
This wreath uses one of the dreaded circular forms but just as a candle holder. The candles are left over from previous years and paper chains serve as a an inexpensive replacement for greens.
Light the first candle on the first Sunday of Advent, November 29. Say a prayer, recite a passage of Scripture or sing a song. There are many sources online for what to say. The website Building Faith posted some nice ideas last week in a post called Advent Wreath Prayers for the Home. With small children, a short and repeatable scripture verse might keep their attention and help them to learn some words of Advent. Use the same prayer or line of scripture all during the first week. On the second Sunday of Advent light the second candle as well as the first. As the weeks pass and more candles are lighted, the darkness of Advent is infused with the anticipated brighter light of Christmas.
♦Click Here for a post I wrote last year about blue versus purple for Advent.
♦ The funky candles are the Ripple version from http://www.geocandles.com/. They are expensive but what I purchased instead of a Christmas tree this year.