An Advent Celebration
A Holiday Celebration of Christ's Birth
Advent is a celebration of Christ's advent—that is, of Christ's coming into the world. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas, and culminates with the celebration of Christmas itself.
Like most Advent celebrations, this one uses candles: one for each of the four Sundays of Advent, and a fifth one for Christmas day. The first four candles are traditionally arranged in a circle, around a wreath lying flat on a table. The fifth candle is traditionally placed in the center of the wreath.
The traditional wreath can be a fire hazard, and my wife and I have never used one. We have always used candle holders instead. Some candle holders arrange four candles in a circle around a central candle. Others are linear, and arrange two candles on either side of the central candle. Our current Advent candle holder arranges five candles in an ascending spiral.
Please treat matches, lit candles, and wreaths with respect. Don't ruin your holiday season by starting a fire in your home.
The Advent Celebration
Advent celebrations differ in the themes they assign to the four Sundays of advent, and in the colors of candles they use. This is the first Advent celebration that my wife and I learned, not long after we were married.
We begin each day's celebration by lighting (in order) the candles from the previous days, followed by the candle for that day. After reading a passage of scripture, we sing hymns and carols. Finally, we close in prayer and extinguish the candles.
Here are the candle colors and the themes for the four Sundays of Advent and for Christmas Day:
- The First Sunday: The Gold Candle for the Prophets
- The Second Sunday: The White Candle for the Angels
- The Third Sunday: The Green Candle for the Shepherds
- The Fourth Sunday: The Blue Candle for the Magi
- Christmas Day: The Red Candle for the Savior
These themes follow God's proclamation of the Good News, from its revelation to the Old Testament prophets, through its manifestation in the person of Jesus Christ.
Introducing Others to Advent
I use an abbreviated Advent celebration when I introduce others to Advent. It includes less scripture reading and less singing, allowing me to lead the entire celebration (from the Prophets to the Savior) in only 15–20 minutes. It works well when five group members take turns reading the scripture passages and lighting the candles, with entire group singing the hymns and carols.