The wreath I'm talking about is an Advent wreath.It is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life. The laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering; pine, holly, and yew, immortality; and cedar, strength and healing. Holly also has a special Christian symbolism: The prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns, and one English legend tells of how the cross was made of holly wood. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ. Any pine cones, nuts, or seedpods used to decorate the wreath also symbolize life and resurrection.
The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. Three are purple, one is rose, and a white candle in the middle. Purple symbolize the preparatory good works undertaken at Advent. The rose, the midpoint of Advent means we are joyfully close to Christmas.The white candle represents Christ and is lit on Christmas Eve.
I don't remember a lot about Advent in my youth...it is a more recent memory. There wasn't an Advent wreath in our home....I do remember an Advent calendar. It was brought home from Sunday School and hung on the refrigerator where I would open a little door each day. The last door was a small picture of a baby in a manger. Now days... Advent calendars are not all religious. I do think having a religious one is a sweet way to teach children about the Christmas story.They are selling Advent calendars at our Church...where a piece of chocolate is given each day. When my kids were growing up...there was no chocolate...Just opening a little door was treat enough. They took turns...it was made of paper....and after so many years of use...it wore out.
We have a tradition at our Church, where we sign up to light the candles...one each Sunday in Advent. It's a wonderful tradition to see families come together to light a candle. A dad lifting a little one up to light a candle. The look of joy and accomplishment in the little one's face. We all can have that joy during this season. We are preparing for the Christ Child's birth.