As Christianity has masterfully done throughout history, it adopted this widespread practice while adapting its meaning in efforts to present the Gospel. Its theme was changed to center upon Jesus Christ (the light of the world; John 3:19-21), rather than the sun or some lesser light. And by the height of the Middle Ages the Advent Wreath was common practice. The four candles were used not only to depict the weeks leading up to the celebration of Jesus’ birth, but also to represent the total of nearly 4,000 years between Adam and Eve and His coming into the world. The pink, or rose candle, symbolizes the halfway mark and serves to remind us to rejoice as we press onward toward both Christmas and Jesus triumphant return.
The meaning of the wreath does not merely stop with the candles. Its circular shape was kept as a reminder of eternity, and the promise of never ending life for those who name Jesus as Lord of their lives. The evergreen used to make the wreath also serve as a reminder of the continuous life we have through faith in Jesus. The various laurels, pinecones, and holly decorations echo this theme as they center upon strength, healing, and immortality found in Him as well. The rich visual history of the wreath serves to underscore the victory and hope we have as a result of Jesus’ entry into the world, and His subsequent victory over death and the grave. Each week, as we light a new candle, we are reminded to hold to the Faith as we are stirred afresh to for the annual celebration of Jesus’ entrance into the world at Christmas and His promise to come again.
Saunders, Rev. William. “The History of the Advent Wreath.” Arlington Catholic Herald