Building traditions in your family's celebrations makes the season so meaningful and memorable as the years go by. An Advent wreath can make your evening meal festive and prayerful. Lighting an additional candle each Sunday and continuing to light them during the week helps keep everyone focused on the Advent season and the reason for the building excitement as Christmas draws near.
The traditional Advent Wreath has beautiful versions now available for sharing with your family. Set it on your dinner table while the lights grow brighter over the Advent weeks.
The Tradition of the Advent Wreath
In my family growing up, we celebrated the season of Advent with an Advent wreath set in the middle of our dining room table. I also remember the Advent wreath near the altar in church and another one in my classroom near the teacher's desk. We colored paper wreaths in the early grades and talked about how many candles we could light when and what the meaning of the waiting period for Christmas was all about.
All of these activities were very meaningful to me as a child and are still important to my life as an adult. The circle of the Advent wreath is a symbol of eternity, the green branches remind us again of the never changing love and life of the Trinity. The three purple candles, purple being the liturgical color of the season, represent repentance -- turning from our distractions and towards God. The pink candle, which is lit on the third Sunday, expresses the hope we have that the Messiah is coming. When we pray, we are entering a quiet place in our hearts where we can listen and hear the word of God.
For an Advent Celebration with a Celtic Flavor
These Advent wreath are gorgeous with their metal base engraved with Celtic knots and symbols. The ancient Celts were known for their metal work, and these wreaths reflect that heritage.
The first of these Celtic Advent wreaths is 8 1/2 " in diameter and is made of pewter. Its surface is covered with Celtic knots and its entire form is that of a Celtic Cross. There are four candle holders for the weeks of Advent for holding the three purple candles and the one pink candle and a fifth candle holder in the middle for the white candle for Christmas morning. The same company makes an identical Advent wreath in bronze if you prefer that look.
The green wreath in the middle is inscribed with these words from an ancient Celtic prayer: As I light this flame, I lay myself before Thee. The wreath is in the shape of a Celtic cross and is adorned with knots inspired by the Book of Kells. The whole wreath is 7" in diameter and is made of solid bronze inlayed with green enamel.
The third wreath has a wooden look but is really cast in resin. It is in the shape of the Trinity Knot recalling the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit of the Christian faith. There are holders for the traditional four candles representing the weeks of Advent, but without the center candle for Christmas morning. This is the largest of the three at 12 1/2" x 11 3/8" x 1 1/4". It includes a pamphlet with an Advent ceremony ready to go. It is also the only one of the three that includes the candles.
Creating Your Own Family Ritual
Ready to Go?
So now that you've got your wreath, your candles, and a little book of prayers, you are all set to pray around your Advent wreath as you light the candles with your family.
You can make your Advent wreath celebration as rich or as simple as you want. Some families like to read from Scripture, whether from the New Testament or from some of the Old Testament prophets, such as Isaiah who prophesied the coming of the Messiah. Others like to read Psalms or to pray simply from the heart. A book such as the one above may be helpful to give you structure you can read from. Some families simply light the candles in silence. Whatever you decide to do, your family meal will be enriched by the experience.
We are living in a time when these devotions, though they seem to be dying out, are more necessary than ever. I suppose every generation has the experience both of great darkness but also of great hope for the future. We of our times need to strengthen ourselves for the tough times we are facing. Praying around the dinner table is something that binds us together, bringing inner peace as well.