The holidays can be a stressful time: Calendars are full, schedules are hectic, and there is a long list of things to get done before Christmas.
Fortunately, Advent arrives just in time to provide a reminder about what is really important as we prepare for the anniversary of Jesus’ birth.
Advent is a time of preparation, celebrated over the four Sundays before Christmas. Advent begins on November 28 this year, and the beginning of Advent also is the beginning of the Church’s Liturgical Year.
There is an Advent tradition that is the perfect antidote to holiday stress – the Advent Wreath. Having one is a good way to slow down, and to pray as the days pass until Christmas.
The Advent Wreath is rich with symbolism, made of evergreens to denote continuous life. It is shaped like a circle, with no beginning or end, to symbolize the eternal nature of God.
The colors of the wreath’s candles match the color of the priest’s vestments at Mass. Three are purple, the color of penance and preparation, and one is rose, for use on the third Sunday. Rose is the color of anticipation.
To use your Advent Wreath at home, light the first candle on the first Sunday of Advent, and light another one on each following Sunday. Pick a special time of the day to light the candles, to have a little quiet refection, and to pray. Many families do this each day at dinner time.
Some people like to make their Advent wreath out of real greens from the yard or gathered on a fall walk. Store-bought Advent Wreaths work fine as well, and are widely available. An Advent Wreath can have real candles or electric lights. It is not important what the wreath is made of, but rather, how it is used.
Why not take a little time this weekend to get your Advent Wreath ready, either continuing a family tradition or creating a new one?