A Tradition-ful Advent:
A Little History:
The Christmas wreath is another tradition that has been around for a long time and was initially created from fresh evergreens (See the history on The Christmas Tree for some correlation there). Since evergreens are green year-round, they were the obvious choice during the winter months. The word ‘wreath’ is derived from an English word meaning to twist, such as in a circle. Some believe that initially wreaths were hung on doors in Ancient Rome to represent victory. These were sometimes worn as headdresses, representing ones occupation, rank and status. Laurel wreaths were used to crown victors of sporting events, a tradition still used today during the Olympic Games, where the medals are engraved with sprigs of laurel.
In the 16th century, Catholics and Protestants throughout Germany had adopted the wreath as a way to celebrate Advent, the season of waiting and preparation for the birth of Christ. A traditional Advent wreath consisted of four candles in a circle of evergreens with a fifth candle in the middle. A candle was lit at dinnertime each week, with an additional candle lit every week. The four candles represented the gifts of the season: Hope, Love, Peace and Joy. The last candle – the one in the center – was lit on Christmas Eve and represented the birth of Jesus.
In Christianity, the Christmas wreath is used to symbolize God’s eternal attributes. The circular shape, represents him from everlasting to everlasting, with no beginning or end. It also represents our eternal life through Jesus Christ.
As a sign of victory, it also reminds us of Jesus’ victory over Satan, over sin and the curse. And that through him we are made victors as well. That someday we will be with him in heaven and receive the crown of life.
Verse(s) to Remember:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12
Ideas to Make it Stick:
- Count how many wreaths you can see while you’re driving somewhere in the car.
- Make a wreath out of anything from construction paper to beads and pipe cleaner or pine straw and twigs in your backyard to garland from a local shops.
- Hang a wreath in your home somewhere.
- Participate in doing an Advent Wreath with your family (I know it started earlier, but it’s never to late to participate – even on Christmas Eve. You can find simple readings for each candle online.
Please feel free to share with friends and leave comments… Do you have other connections between the tradition and the heart of the holiday? Creative ideas to make it stick? I’d love to know what you and your family do with this!