In ancient Rome, people used decorative wreaths as a
sign of victory. Some believe that this is where the
hanging of wreaths on doors came from.
origins of the Advent wreath are found in the folk
practices of the pre-Christian Germanic peoples who,
during the cold December darkness of Eastern Europe,
gathered wreaths of evergreen and lighted fires as signs
of hope in a coming spring and renewed light. Christians
kept these popular traditions alive, and by the 16th
century Catholics and Protestants throughout Germany
used these symbols to celebrate their Advent hope in
Christ, the everlasting Light. From Germany the use of
the Advent wreath spread to other parts of the Christian
world. Traditionally, the wreath is made of four candles
in a circle of evergreens with a fifth candle in the
middle. Three candles are violet and the fourth is rose,
but four white candles or four violet candles can also
be used. Each day at home, the candles are lighted,
perhaps before the evening meal-- one candle the first
week, and then another each succeeding week until
December 25th. A short prayer may accompany the lighting
of each candle. The last candle is the middle candle.
The lighting of this candle takes place on Christmas
Eve. It represents Jesus Christ being born.