Advent is one of my favorite times of the year. Advent in Western Christianity is the time to prepare oneself for the birth of Christ or for Christmas. It is a time I think we need to do less and spend more time with friends, family and God. However our society is one of making it all about the parties, the sales and the things that must be done and often one does not enjoy or prepare as well as we should.
In the church Advent starts the fourth Sunday before Christmas, December 25th. So Sunday is the first day of Advent. An Advent wreath is often used in churches as well as homes to help with the celebration of Advent. Each week a new candle is lit to represent different parts of the coming of Christ. The first candle is a purple one and is hope, the second also purple is peace, the third is pink and is for joy, and the fourth is purple and is for love. The candle in the middle is white and is for Christ. It is traditionally lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
Typically the Advent wreath is made with evergreens. I remember my mother always having one with greens. She actually had a pottery wreath holder that held water for the greens with holes for the greens around it and the four candle holders built in. I bought the metal one pictured above and do not add the greens since we do not have a real tree. However there are many simple ones you can make as well. For example, pictured below is an Advent wreath we made at church during the Advent Workshop a few years ago. It is a Styrofoam wreath wrapped in green crepe paper and then with fake greens and berries glued on and the candles just pushed into the wreath.
The evergreens symbolize everlasting life and the circle symbolizes God's love with no beginning and no ending. (Source) Purple of Advent represents penance in the church. (Source) The pink candle represents joy. The tradition of the pink or rose colored candle for the third Sunday comes from the Catholic Church when the Pope was known to give a rose at this mass to help break the solemn mood of Advent. (Source)
There are many crafts for children having to do with Advent and Advent wreaths. Here are a few I found.
- Advent Wreath Craft in two sizes from First School (See above)
- Coloring Pages of Advent Wreaths and Bible Stories from First School
- Advent Wreath Coloring page from Catholic Mom
- Advent Paper Chain (with different activities for each day in Advent for a child to do) from Catholic Mom (See links on the bottom of Resource List)
- An adorable paper hand print Advent Wreath from The Catholic Toolbox
- Loyola Press has a great hand-out tutorial for a wreath as well as history, readings, etc.
- Activity Village has an activity wreath where you can color or print in color and add the candles each week.