Advent is a season of preparation for the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity, with the anniversary of Our Lord’s birth on Christmas. It is also a time when by remembrance, our hearts and minds are directed to Christ’s second coming at the end of time. The four weeks of the Advent season, represent the four thousand years the people of the Old Testament, waited for the coming of Jesus Christ.

Dynamic Catholic on the Meaning of the Four Advent Candles.

Traditionally, the Advent wreath is a circle of evergreen branches. It is often decorated with berries and pinecones. Both the evergreen branches and the circular shape symbolize the passing of time and eternal life. The shape of the wreath, with no beginning or end, reflects the complete and endless love that Jesus has for us. During the Advent season, we eagerly anticipate his coming and the promise of eternal life in heaven with him.

The Four Advent Candles

As a Christian tradition, the wreath holds the four Advent candles. The candles represent Jesus coming as the light in darkness. One candle is lit each Sunday until all four candles are lit. As Christmas draws nearer, each candle brings a little more light into the darkness. Sometimes a white candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to symbolize that Jesus is with us. This can be referred to as the "Christ candle."

Each of the candles lit before Christmas represent an aspect of preparation during the season of Advent:

Week One: Candle Name: the Prophecy Candle The First Week of Advent Represents: Hope Candle Color: Purple

Purple is the primary color associated with Advent. Within the Catholic Church it symbolizes penance, preparation, and sacrifice. During the first week of Advent we remember the Old Testament prophets who foretold of Jesus’ coming with hope and anticipation.

Week Two: Candle Name: the Bethlehem Candle The Second Week of Advent Represents: Peace and Preparation Candle Color: Purple

During this second week of Advent, we reflect on our lives and work on becoming better-versions-of-ourselves in preparation for Jesus’ coming. We remember the journey Joseph and Mary took from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

Week Three: Candle Name: the Shepherd's Candle The Third Week of Advent Represents: Joy Candle Color: Pink

This third candle is pink and symbolizes rejoicing. During the third week of Advent we are filled with joy for the near arrival of Jesus on Christmas day. This Sunday is often called "Gaudete Sunday" as we reflect on the joy the shepherd's felt at the birth of Jesus.

Week Four: Candle Name: the Angel's Candle The Fourth Week of Advent Represents: Love Candle Color: Purple

During this final week of Advent we rejoice in the endless love that God has for us, which is made apparent in the birth of his Son. We reflect on the good news of God's love brought to us from the angel Gabriel.