Finding the meaning beyond the traditionYesterday, to the background of "Emmanuel" by Michael W. Smith, I said a blessing and lit one purple candle – Advent had finally begun. It was a little bittersweet doing it alone, but it gave me time to reflect on the meaning behind the Advent wreath. The purple stands for prayer, penance and sacrifice – something we often forget amid the coming joy of Christmas. Advent is about change, about transforming ourselves for the coming of Christ. Joy is marked on Gaudete Sunday, at the halfway point of Advent, symbolized by the pink candle. The evergreen has many meanings, including being the color of hope and the symbol of eternal life with Christ. And, of course, the light signifies Christ.
My family has always celebrated Advent with the Advent wreath – with my siblings and I vying for the chance to light and blow out the candles at dinnertime. This year, I am going to add the Christ candle. After decorating a white candle, it can be placed in the middle of the Advent wreath, either on its own or covered in a blue cloth (symbolizing Mary). Then, it is lit on Christmas Eve to represent the birth of Christ, and it is used to celebrate his coming throughout the Christmas season.