The Advent Wreath
Customarily the Advent Wreath is constructed of a circle of evergreen branches into which are inserted four candles (advent candles). According to tradition, three of the candles are violet and the fourth is rose.
The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday of Advent, for this colour anticipates and symbolizes the Christmas joy announced in the first word of the Entrance Antiphon: "Rejoice" (Latin, Gaudete).
For this reason the Third Sunday is also called Gaudete Sunday, and rose colour vestments are permitted.
The Advent Wreath represents the long time when people lived in spiritual darkness, waiting for the coming of the Messiah, the Light of the world.
Each year in Advent people wait once again in darkness for the coming of the Lord.
Various meanings have been assigned to the four candles. One interpretation has the first candle representing the patriarchs, the second the prophets, the third reminding us of John the Baptist, and the fourth of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
A fifth white candle in the centre represents Christ.
It is lit on Christmas Eve as a remembrance of Christ coming into the world.
The Advent Wreath serves as a powerful visual reminder of the holiness of the season.
The light of the candles invite us to a time of quiet reflection during this busy time when we have a chance to consider the true meaning of Christmas.
We are called to welcome the light of Christ into our lives.
The Jesse Tree
Jesse Trees are a very old Christmas Tradition and first started in medieval times. They are used to help tell the story of the Bible from creation to the Christmas Story. The name comes from Jesse who was the Father of the great Jewish King David.
The Jesse Tree helps us connect the custom of decorating Christmas trees to the events leading to Jesus' birth. The Jesse Tree is named from Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot shall come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Jesse was the father of King David.
We adorn a Jesse Tree with illustrated symbols s that represent the people, prophesies, and events leading up to the birth of Jesus.
Some people make a separate tree to decorate with symbols and add a symbol each day much like an Advent Calendar ending with the symbol of Jesus in the manger on the 25th December. Some people add the symbols to their Christmas Tree.
As you look through the Bible many symbols present themselves: a rainbow, the angels, Noah’s Ark, bread, fish and many many more.
The symbols of the Jesse Tree tell the story of God in the Old Testament, connecting the Advent season with the faithfulness of God across four thousand years of history.