The Advent wreath consists of a circle of evergreen branches set around four candles. The wreath circle stands for the eternal life that Christ gives to all believers. The candles, which usually consist of three purple candles and one pink one, represent the coming of Christ as the light of the world. A candle is lit on the first Sunday of Advent and then another one on each succeeding Sunday.
The purple candles signify that Advent is a season of repentance as well as expectation, although some churches use blue candles in place of purple ones to symbolize hopeful anticipation of Advent. The purple candles signify the royalty of the coming King (Christ).
The pink candle is lit on the third Sunday of Advent, which is called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin, and is the main call to action for that Sunday: “Rejoice! … the Lord is near,” which is based on Philippians 4:4.
Some wreaths also have a white candle in the center, called the Christ candle. This candle is lit on Christmas Day and throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas, which begin on December 25 and end January 5.
First Sunday in Advent
The Prophet Candle, symbolizing the hope and anticipation of Christ’s coming in the flesh as prophesied in the Old Testament.
Second Sunday in Advent
The Bethlehem Candle, recalls how Christ was humbly born of a virgin in the insignificant village of Bethlehem.
Third Sunday in Advent
The Shepherds’ Candle, recalls the shepherds rejoicing after they saw the Christ child in the stable.
Fourth Sunday in Advent
The Angels’ candle, reminding Christians of the angels who announced Christ’s birth.
The Christ candle