The Advent wreath

A simple way to explain Advent time , the meaning of the candles and prepare children for Christmas…and it is particularly good if Christmas happens…during the summer season!

One afternoon in November, mum was doing something that looked like a flower arrangement to put on the middle of the table. She had as well 4 or 5 candles, 3 of them were red, one purple and one white. She had some ivy, some pine twigs and some flowers from the garden.

– “What are you doing, mum?” – asked the boy.

– “I am making an Advent wreath”- se answered, whilst arranging the ivy and the pine twigs (the very same ones they collected together earlier that afternoon).

– “And what is Advent?” “Why a wreath?”

– “Advent is – she started – a very old tradition that started in Germany…

– “Where Grandma comes from!!! – interrupted the boy.

– “Yes, where Grandma comes from” – she answered and continued:

“It is an old tradition that comes from Germany, and it reminds us that we are approaching Christmas. In this way, we prepare ourselves for Christmas, lighting up one candle each Sunday, until, finally, on Christmas day, we light up the white candle, the one that goes in the middle, to remind us that Jesus was born”.

– “Ahhh….so that’s what it means?” That’s the reason why you have different colours?”

– Each candle has a meaning. The first candle we lit means Hope. The second one, means Faith. The third one, means Joy….

– “So Joy has a different colour?” – interrupted the boy.

– “Yes” – and she continued – “the fourth candle means Peace. And the last one we lit, the one in the middle, represents the birth of Jesus”.

– “But….Grandmother always had purple candles instead of red ones, like this ones!” – the boy pointed.

– “I know… – said mum. I do not have purple candles, I only have red ones, a White one and a purple one. In any case the idea is to build it and remember what it means”.

– “¿But mum, why are you using ivy, pine, flowers…they are going to die with this hot weather!!”

Mum smiled.  

– Using leaves and twigs and flowers, everything that is green, means life. From where your Grandmother comes from, Christmas time is winter time, so it is very cold, dark and you can hardly see any green…apart from pine trees and some bushes…here it is almost summer…so if the flowers and twigs wither we should go and pick up some fresh ones to replace them!”

– “¿And why a wreath?”

– “Because the first wreath was actually a cartwheel…”

– “Wow” It was huge then!!” – exclaimed the boy.

– “Yes. When this tradition started, it was the only thing they found that would be big enough to accommodate 24 candles, because back then they lit one candle a day….As the tradition went on, people started to twitch and twist so everybody could have their own ring, their own wreath …can you imagine if we had to put together a cartwheel? ¡It would not fit!”

– “Hmmm…. They could have chosen a square…. a rectangle…” – said the boy , pensive.

– “The circle, the ring, has a meaning as well. It means something that is never-ending, that does not have a beginning or an end, like Hope, Faith, Joy, and Peace.”.

– “It is like this” – said the boy. And he gave his mum a hug.

– “Yes, just like  a hug” And she hug him back.

Advent wreath, November 2020, Spain