The word “Advent” comes from the Latin “adventus” and refers to the “coming” or “appearance.” Christians all over the world have long celebrated Advent during Christmas time. The nativity and Christ’s coming to the world as an infant are remembered as well as the hope of Christ’s second coming to the world as a king triumphant. My family was new to the Advent tradition a few years ago but it has since become one of our most cherished Christmas traditions. It grounds us in the midst of all the fun and frivolity of the season. It transforms an already magical holiday into a beautifully spiritual one. We do not claim our Advent tradition to be the “right” way to observe Advent–simply our favorite way to adapt this wonderful tradition to our family and our faith.
The Advent tradition is rich in symbolism. The evergreen wreath symbolizes the eternal nature and circle of God’s love for each of us. The light from the candles recalls that Jesus is the Light of the World, the promised Messiah. The outer candles are purple, the color of royalty, although the third outer candle is usually pink, recalling the blood Christ shed for our sake. While there are several traditions regarding the candles, one holds that the candles represent the blessings of hope, love, joy, and peace that come to us through Jesus Christ. The central white candle is called the Christ candle. It represents the purity of the Lamb of God and the cleansing power of his Atonement when we take his name upon us at baptism. For all of you who are new to Advent, like we were, here’s basically how it works:
Beginning four Sundays before Christmas, our family gathers in the evening around the wreath. On the first Sunday of Advent, we light the first outer candle which represents one of four highlighted blessings available to us because of Christ: Hope, love, joy, and peace. We talk about the meaning of that candle and how it relates to our faith in Christ. We read a corresponding scripture and sing a Christmas carol. The youngest family member usually gets to blow the candle out. The next Sunday we light the first candle again with a brief review and then we light the second candle and follow the same pattern as before and so on with the third and fourth Sundays. On Christmas Eve, we gather one last time and light all the candles, including the center candle of our Advent wreath, the white Christ candle. By this time the partially burned outer candles have formed a beautiful stepped effect around the Christ candle. We share our belief and gratitude for our Savior and sing Silent Night and other beloved carols together. It is a special, sweet moment each year for our family. The children then get to blow out the candles and get tucked into bed to await the excitement of Christmas morning.
Christmas is our favorite holiday. We love the music and the lights and the tree and the parties. We love giving and receiving presents and enjoying all the treats of the season. We love it all. However, in the midst of the crazy pace and ever-increasing materialism that have unfortunately also started to mark the holiday season, we have found this Advent tradition to be an invaluable way to ground our family each week and to truly remember the reason for the season.
In our Traditions We Treasure Advent complete set, you will receive a traditional advent wreath, including all five candle holders and candles and a page of instructions. Aside from any scriptures or carols/hymns you are going to incorporate (all the suggested ones are available under “Resources” at lds.org), that should be everything you need to start your own Advent tradition.
**For those who would like to know or incorporate even more, we highly recommend the resources offered by religious professor, Eric Huntsman, at his website:
It’s where our family got our start. Thanks, Brother Huntsman!