The Advent Wreath is a long-standing tradition in many Christian denominations, including the Episcopal Church. Each church community has their own customs and practices regarding the use of Advent Wreaths. In the Episcopal tradition, the Advent Wreath is considered a “visual symbol marking the progress of the season of Advent” (BOS p. 30). However, there are no “official” guidelines regarding where the wreath is to be placed in the sanctuary, at what point during the service the candles are supposed to be lit, or the liturgy that should accompany the lighting of the candles.
Four candles are used in the wreath, representing the four Sundays of Advent. The candles are traditionally purple or lavender, but sometimes blue or red are used. Many churches choose to include a pink candle that symbolizes joy for the third Sunday in Advent, also known as Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. While not necessary, a white candle is often included in the center. This white candle is known as Christ’s candle and it is lit on Christmas Eve to symbolize the end of Advent and the beginning of Christmas. Other themes such as Hope, Joy, and Peace are sometimes associated with each week of Advent.
Many families choose to have Advent Wreathes in their homes, creating a space for reflection, listening, and prayer. An abundance of resources are available for readings, prayers and other liturgies online and in the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Occasional Services.