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Advent Traditions

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.

Another interpretation has the First Candle representing Joy,  the Second Candle , Love ,   the Third  Candle representing Joy  and the Fourth Candle, Peace.


A fifth white candle in the centre represents Christ and 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.

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