Advent Candle

Advent Candle

A number of different Advent customs require the lighting of candles. Some writers believe that the use of candles during Advent may have been adopted from the fires and lights that illuminated preChristian midwinter festivals. Before the widespread use of electric lighting, the twinkling candles not only served to dispel the gloom of the long winter nights, but also represented the hope of light and life to come. In Christian terms, the flame of the Advent candle represents the coming of Jesus, "the light of the world" (John 8:12).

Placing a lighted candle in the windowsill is perhaps the simplest Advent candle custom. In Europe during centuries past, a flickering candle in the window symbolized the offer of hospitality to nighttime wayfarers. Some believed the glowing light might even attract the Christ child. The Irish brought with them the tradition of placing a lighted candle in the windowsill at Christmas time when they emigrated to the United States (see also Ireland, Christmas in). In the late nineteenth century groups of carolers popularized the custom in Boston. From there the practice spread to other American cities. The citizens of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, keep candles in their windows at Christmas time, though they trace their tradition back to the town's Moravian founders (for more on Moravian Christmas customs,see Christingle; Lovefeast; Watch Night). Christmas time candles also twinkle in the windows of historic Williamsburg,Virginia. The custom there developed as a means of decorating historic district homes in a manner consistent with the town's colonial architecture and décor.

In the American Southwest people decorate the exteriors of their homes with luminarias, candles placed in brown paper bags filled with sand. This custom originated in Mexico.

Many churches hold special candle-lighting services sometime during Advent. Often, each person attending is given a candle (see also Christingle). The lighting of these candles then becomes part of the service.

Advent wreaths may be found in both home and church Advent observances. These wreaths contain four candles, one for each of the four Sundays of Advent. One is lit on the first Sunday of Advent. One more candle is lit on each of the following Sundays until on the fourth Sunday of Advent all four candles burn in unison. These four Advent candles may also be used without a wreath. (See also Christmas Candles.)

Further Reading

Augustine, Peg, comp. Come to Christmas. Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon Press, 1993. Thompson, Sue Ellen, ed. Holiday Symbols. Detroit, Mich.: Omnigraphics, 1998. Weiser, Francis X. Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1952.
References in periodicals archive ?
On Sunday we light the first Advent candle, coloured purple to mark the royal Advent season and set in a holly wreath.
I'm not one for quilting, I'm afraid, so last year I bought an Advent candle for my family instead.
And as I picked up the Advent candle wreath, it was hard not to congratulate myself.
Bartholomew's Passage" is a family Advent story meant to be read together along with a lighting of the Advent candle wreath in the 4 weeks before Christmas.
29 as they lit the first Advent candle on the Christmas tree in Town Hall Square.
AFTER reading that an Advent candle caused a fire in a church, BOB GREEN said on TS11 "I'm really pleased to read that no one was hurt in this incident, but I think the church needs to be very careful when it comes to health and safety.
The true Christmas started last Sunday when we watched the first Advent candle lit at Mass and sang the 12th century hymn O Come, Emmanuel, and Ransom Captive Israel.
First Valerie Singleton revealed she's made more notches on her bedpost than Advent candle holders in her time and includes in her conquests Peter Purves.
This is a variation on the Blue Peter Christmas Advent candle holder, only bigger;
Your Christmas tree decorations were home-made like the Blue Peter Advent candle made from a pair of coathangers, but today you really do match your decorations to the colour of your room.
So, while mainstream Catholic churches and Queen of Angels' ``traditional'' church have been lighting one Advent candle each week during the monthlong season that leads up to Christmas, Radecki's flock has also been reciting novenas - groups of prayers, said on nine consecutive days before Christmas.
He invited a guest to light the final advent candle in the packed cathedral and he said his thoughts were with the people for whom "the festivities emphasise their isolation and pain".