As a Catholic, Advent is a very exciting time for Rainer Blanchette. While much is made about the commercial aspects of the holiday season in America, it really is a holiday to celebrate the birth of the Messiah and everything Jesus was then able to accomplish via his upcoming life, death, and resurrection. Just as Catholics observe Lent prior to the Easter holiday, Christians observe Advent as a time to prepare for the birth of Jesus.
The most easily recognizable symbol of Advent is the Advent wreath. Rainer Blanchette explains that every Advent wreath features four candles. Three of which are purple and one of which is colored pink. Each Sunday during Advent, a new candle is lit to symbolize a different thing for followers of Christ to focus on during their Christmas preparation. Even the wreath itself has strong symbolic meaning for people of faith. Rainer Blanchette notes that the shape of the wreath is a representation of eternal life. Circles do not have a clear beginning or end point, which is a representation of the eternal life of God.
Rainer Blanchette explains that the first week of Advent marks the lighting of the first purple candle. The color of the candle is important to note because purple is a color used to represent the liturgical church. A lot of the teachings of the season are reflected in the readings at weekly mass during this time. The first week of Advent is a time to read about the prophets who were called to spread the word regarding the arrival of the Messiah. The church stresses that while followers should be looking to take inventory of their sins during this sacred time, they should also be refocused and reenergized during the Christmas season.
During the second week of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. The second week of Advent focuses on the importance of faith and how Mary and Joseph had to have an insurmountable amount of faith to travel to Bethlehem and deliver baby Jesus. Both Mary and Joseph are saints because of how they responded when called upon to serve. The third week of Advent brings upon the lighting of the pink candle. Pink is often worn by a priest during times of celebration. This is what the third week of Advent is all about. Before finally celebrating the Christmas holiday, the last week of Advent marks a time to prepare oneself for the arrival of Jesus. Catholics are called to reflect on their behavior and repent.
Finally, Rainer Blanchette notes that a lot of Catholics will add a white candle to their Advent wreath to be lit on Christmas eve. White is a symbol of purity, so it is the perfect candle to represent Jesus who was born, lived, and died without sin. Rainer Blanchette hopes this post helps anyone who has seen the Advent wreath but didn’t necessarily know what each candle represented.