Catholic Activity: Advent Wreath III
The Advent Wreath has become one of the most popular Advent practices. Here is an explanation of its symbolism, and suggestions on how to make one, and the blessing for the Advent wreath.
One of the most meaningful Advent customs is that of the Advent Wreath. It is made by winding twigs of evergreen, pine, cedar, or holly around a wire or wood hoop to which have been attached four candleholders (or holes in which to insert the candles). The wreath is then hung with four ribbons, or may be placed flat to form the centerpiece on the dining-room table. Candles may be red or white and the ribbons should be of similar colors.
The wreath represents eternity; the candles divide it into the four periods from the creation up to the coming of Christ. The lighted candle is symbolic of Christ "the splendor of eternal light" who comes "to enlighten them that sit in darkness."
The wreath should be hung on the eve of the first Sunday of Advent, with the whole family gathered around it. It might be good to have the mother light the first candle then give that privilege to other members of the family on the next three Saturdays. One candle is lit the first Saturday, two the second, etc. After the candle has been lighted, the head of the family, if possible, reads the prayer for the blessing. The following prayer may be used:
Father: Our help is in the name of the Lord. All: Who hath made heaven and earth.
Father: Let us pray: O God, by whose word all things are sanctified, pour forth Thy blessings upon this wreath and grant that we who use it may prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ and may receive from Thee abundant graces, through Christ our Lord.
Then the father sprinkles the wreath with holy water. The above prayer should be followed by the orations proper to the Sunday (which may be found in your Missal). After the prayers the family sings some of the traditional Advent songs, especially the Rorate Coeli.
It is a good idea to have all of the family help make the wreath, but the children especially should have a hand in it.
Activity Source: How to Make Your House a Home by Rev. Bernard Stokes, O.F.M., Family Life Bureau, Washington D.C., 1955