Advent 2014 begins just a few days after Thanksgiving, on Sunday November 30. Now is the time to gather supplies to make an Advent Wreath, which is a great opportunity to involve young children in the preparation for the Coming of the Lord.
The first Sunday of Advent is less than one week away. The occasion marks the beginning of the Liturgical Year of the Catholic Church, and the first of four Sundays prior to Christmas that prepare for the birth of Jesus Christ. The creation of an Advent Wreath along with the following instructions that teach how to make, bless and light the Advent Wreath help children understand this important time within the Catholic faith. The attached picture is a printable Advent Wreath activity for younger children to color each week instead of lighting a candle.
Many faithful begin their Christmas decorating at the start of Advent. It helps to keep Christ in Christmas and teaches children patience as they wait for the birth of Jesus in a world that has commercialized the holiday. For instance Atlantic City celebrates the “Tree & Light Fest.” One can clearly see the words Christmas have been entirely removed from the ad and replaced with holiday. No, it’s a Christmas Tree AC!
Advent refers to the coming of Christ in three ways; the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth, the coming of Christ in our daily lives through the Sacrament of Holy Communion and His Second Coming at the end of time. Advent is such a special time of preparation for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
There is much to accomplish in a short amount of time, that often the meaning of Christmas gets lost behind the decorations, baking, and shopping. Through Advent, we can teach our children patience as they dream about opening gifts under the Christmas Tree. Creating an Advent Wreath and learning the Advent Prayer below helps to teach children the true meaning of Christmas
Advent Wreath Prayer
(Can be said when each candle is lit)
God, You gave us Your Son, Jesus, because You love us so much. Move our hearts to reach out to people around us who are poor, sick or lonely. Prepare our hearts to welcome Jesus, Your Son. Amen.
The Advent Wreath, which originated in Germany with the Lutherans, is used as the centerpiece for many Catholic families. It consists of four candles (3 purple, one pink) surrounded by evergreen branches.
Starting on the first Sunday, each candle is lit until all four are aflame on the last Sunday. The flames signify the light of Jesus who is born on Christmas Day. Purple reminds us that Advent is a time of reflection and penance, while the pink candle is lit on the third Sunday (Gaudete Sunday). Advent wreaths can be purchased or made with tapers and other craft items, found at Michaels or Catholic stores, by following the steps outlined here.
The Advent Wreath is generally blessed the night before the first Sunday of Advent, or whenever possible, with Holy Water. The prayers and responses are included in the link above.
To light the Advent Wreath you will need three purple candles and one pink, which is lit on the third Sunday. The Advent Wreath is generally lit around dinnertime and extinguished following all of the Advent devotions.