One of my family’s favorite Christmas traditions is the Advent wreath. On each of the four Sundays in Advent (the four weeks before Christmas), our family gathers around the wreath with cookies and eggnog and hot chocolate. We light the candles, read Scripture passages, and sing carols. Not only is this cozy family time, but it focuses us with joyful anticipation on the birth of Jesus.
The Advent wreath became popular in Germany and Scandinavia, and worked its way to Britain and America. Traditionally it’s a flat evergreen wreath with four candles – three purple and one pink, or four red candles – with a white candle in the middle. Even the least crafty person in the world (that would be me) can put one together.
Each Sunday one more candle is lit, going in a clockwise pattern – purple (Prophet’s Candle), purple (Bethlehem Candle), pink (Shepherd’s Candle), purple (Angels’ Candle). On Christmas Day, all four candles in the wreath are lit, plus the white Christ Candle in the center. This symbolizes the coming light of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. This Sunday (December 1), is the first Sunday in Advent. If you’d like to join the Sundin family in this tradition, here are some family friendly, kid-tested ideas.
Each element can be adapted to the ages of any children present – and personalized for your family.
Advent Week One – the Prophet’s Candle.
Light one purple candle, the Prophet’s Candle. Traditionally the youngest child lights the candles, but use your judgment.
(Adapt to the ages of your children) The Old Testament prophets told of a coming Messiah, or Savior – hundreds of years before Jesus was born. He would come into the dark world and bring light. Explain how prophets spoke God’s word to people. Ponder what the world must have been like without the hope of Christ.
Isaiah 11:1-10 (explains how the Messiah would come from David’s line)
Isaiah 7:14 (Messiah to be born of a virgin)
Luke 1: 26-38 (the angel Gabriel appears to Mary)
Matthew 1: 18-24 (the angel appears to Joseph)
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
“Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”
Does your family or church use an Advent wreath, and does it help you get in the true Christmas spirit?