The first candle of the Advent wreath needs to be lit on the 1st of December this year – in 2019, that is the day when Advent, or ‘waiting for the Lord’s coming’, begins. This Sunday will the preparations for Christmas begin – and, more broadly, all the Christmas festivities, which run from the first Sunday of Advent to the Epiphany. The Advent wreath is the most beautiful and meaningful symbol of this long-awaited period that can be found in almost every Christian home today.
THE STORY OF THE ADVENT WREATH
The Advent wreath is one of the very few symbols we know exactly when was created: it was first made in 1839 by a German theologian and educator, Johann Heinrich Wichern, a Lutheran, in Hamburg, Germany. Wichern wanted to create a symbol that would reduce the time until Christmas for the street children he cared for. The Advent wreath he designed was a cartwheel with twenty red and four white candles on it. The red candles were lit on weekdays, while the white candles were lit on Sundays, and the piece was suspended in the dormitory for the children to see every day. Wichern’s Advent Wreath, in addition to easing the wait, also had the great advantage of helping children master the art of counting.
THE SUCCESS OF THE ADVENT WREATH
While the original 24-candle Advent wreath is now used almost exclusively in certain German cities and public institutions, the simplified four-candle version has conquered the world in less than a hundred years. It was laid on pine branches in 1860 already – which is still its most popular form – then soon it started to appear in churches, then the Catholic Church took it over from the Lutherans. In the 1930s, the use of Advent wreaths became commonplace in North American customs, too, and then from here practically spread throughout the entire Catholic world.
COMPLEX BEAUTY: WHAT DOES AN ADVENT WREATH SYMBOLIZE?
The circular shape of the Advent wreath symbolizes God’s infinite love, while the use of evergreens represents Catholic hope for eternal life. The four candles, in the order of being lit, symbolize the concepts of hope, peace, joy and love. And although purple and pink are the colors of the Christmas period in the Catholic Church, Advent wreaths are usually not displaying these hues – for example, in Protestant England, red is dominant when creating a wreath.
TODAY’S ADVENT WREATHS
Advent wreaths nowadays come in thousands of colors and styles and are decorated with countless accessories. At Arioso, we pride ourselves that our Advent wreaths, like our other bouquets and flower decorations, are made entirely from natural ingredients and are perfected by the hands of highly skilled florists before entering our stores or webshop. In addition, we hold several Advent Wreath Making Workshops each year during which our guests, with the help of expert hands, can create their own Advent Wreaths to create a truly personalized and unique Christmas decoration for their first Sunday of Advent.