I’m a real fan of hodgepodge/homegrown Advent wreaths. Ever since I failed a couple of decades ago at weaving and wiring greenery into a metal ring in a church basement, I have given up using prefabricated frames. Now I use four random candle holders and any size candles–votives, tapers, balls, or thick columns. Sometimes I match the candles, sometimes I mix it up or recycle them from previous years. To create a wreath, scatter greens, herbs, ribbons, or paper chains around the candles.
Even a week into the Season, it’s not too late to make an Advent wreath for 2014. Use four purple/blue candles or three purple/blue plus a pink candle for the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday–the Sunday of “rejoicing” in the middle of the time of repentance. “Rejoice (gaudete) in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice.” If you can’t find blue, purple, or pink, use any four candles to represent the four Sundays of Advent. This Sunday, December 7, light two candles indicating the start of the second week of Advent. Light the same two candles all week. On December 14, light the pink candle plus the candles from the first two weeks.On December 21, light all four candles. The darkness dissipates as Christmas approaches.
A traditional time to light the candles was at the evening family meal. Since many families now are untraditional and an evening meal together may not happen, place the wreath in a central location. Where is most of the foot traffic in your house? In the kitchen, near the bedrooms, near the bathroom? Find a few minutes before bedtime or in the morning to light the candles. Say a prayer, read an Advent scripture, read an appropriate poem or piece of prose, or just be quiet. Pages 67-71 of The Season of the Nativity: Confessions and Practices of an Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany Extremist give suggestions for readings and a variety of ways to use the wreath.