What is Advent?

The word Advent is derived from the Latin word advenire, meaning ‘to come’, referring to the coming of Christ.

In the Catholic Church, Advent refers to the four weeks preceding Christmas, a time of liturgical celebration that highlights the birth of Jesus Christ and, according to biblical prophecy, the Day of Judgment on which he returns.

Advent is a time of spiritual purification, as well as preparing for Jesus’ arrival. Purple is the color used in the vestments during celebrations, a symbol of the beginning of a new liturgical year, which occurs on the first Sunday of Advent.

Advent is a time for penance and spiritual cleansing, but for Christians, it is also a time of joy and rejoicing. This is because it nurtures the hope of the Messiah’s return through the celebration of his birth.

Advent represents Mary’s waiting for the birth of Jesus. This is announced by the Angel Gabriel in a vision in which he told her she was about to conceive the Son of God.

Advent always begins on the Sunday closest to the 30th of November and ends on the 24th of December, Christmas Eve.

The wreaths of candles are represented tied to the Christmas season, and each of them has the meaning that the circle of wreath signifies the eternity of God with no beginning or end. And even each of the individual evergreen that makes up the wreath has the meaning that can be represented to our faith. We don’t mention each of them but the most important is that the wreath as a whole is meant to remind us of both immortality of our soul and God’s promises of everlasting life through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The four candles represent four weeks of Advent, and each candle represents each Sunday. Three candles are purple, the liturgical calendar color that represents the time of prayer, penance, and sacrifice.

The first purple candle symbolizes hope, Sometimes it is called the “Prophecy Candle” in memory of the prophets, especially Isaiah, who prophesied the birth of Christ. It symbolizes the expectation for the coming Messiah.

The second purple candle symbolizes faith. The candle is called the “Bethlehem Candle” as it symbolizes Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.

The third candle is pink and symbolizes joy. It is the “Shepherd’s Candle”, and it is pink because rose is the liturgical color for joy. The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday and is meant to remind us of the joy that the world experienced at the birth of Jesus, as well as the joy that the faithful have reached the midpoint of Advent.

The four and last purple candle, lighted on the four Sunday of Advent, symbolizes peace. It is the “Angel Candle” as the angel’s message reminds us “Peace on earth, to the people of goodwill” (Luke 2:14 KJV). It is final week of prayer, penance as we wait for the arrival of our Saviour. 

In modern traditions, the Advent wreath we see does not include a white candle.  But the white candle is in place in the middle of the wreath and on Christmas Eve. This candle is named “Christ candle” and it represents the life of Christ. The color white symbolizes purity because Christ is our sinless, pure Saviour.