Advent without an Advent wreath? Quite unthinkable for me. The festively decorated fir wreath with its four candles means as much to me as the chocolate advent calendar does to my daughter.
Advent wreath making
As in many families, it has become customary at home to make the Advent wreath ourselves. A few days before the first Sunday in Advent, my husband fetches fir leaves from our forest.
In the meantime, my daughter Catharina and I prepare the old hoop made of straw, some green floral wire and the recently bought bows and candles. With my secateurs, I cut the fir branches to the right size and Catharina puts them together in small bundles. The fir needles give off a lovely fresh scent getting us into the pre-Christmas spirit.
We start by tying the fir branches to the straw hoop with the wire. Bundle by bundle – until we have a nice even wreath. Then we attach the candles and bows. We are more than satisfied, as this year it’s turned out particularly well.
Where does this pre-Christmas custom come from?
The first Advent wreath came from Johann Hinrich Wichern, an Evangelical Lutheran theologian and educator. Back then, Wichern took care of poor children in the so-called “Rough House” in Hamburg. He wanted to give them a little joy with his Advent wreath and shorten the time until Christmas Eve. In its original form, the Advent wreath consisted of an old wagon wheel with twenty small candles for the weekdays and four large candles for Sundays. Almost a hundred years later, the Advent wreath has become established in Catholic areas and today it is impossible to imagine our homes decorated for Christmas without it.
The symbolism of the Advent wreath
The fact that the light grows stronger every week with the lighting of another candle is a symbol of the increasing anticipation of Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ. He is called the “light of the world” in the Christian faith. However, there are other interpretations, such as the representation of the wreath as the circle of the earth and that of the candles as the four cardinal points. The green of the fir branches stands for hope and life.
The light is here
“When it’s getting quiet and still
Let’s wait together for the feeling
Our heart opens its door wide open….”
(Text passage from „S’Liacht is do“ by STOAHOAT & BAZWOACH)
Like many others, we like to take time every Advent Sunday to light the candles of our Advent wreath together. First one, then two, then three, then four. And each time the light shines a bit brighter. Maybe we should enjoy it especially intensively this Advent.
photo credits: Elisabeth Hartl