We keep a family Advent wreath on our dining room table during the season of Advent. We light the candles each night at dinner as part of our table blessing, adding a new candle each week at Sunday dinner.
We use our Advent wreath to mark the passage of time during the four weeks of Advent, beginning each year on the fourth Sunday before Christmas.
The wreath is made of evergreen branches arranged in a horizontal circle, cradling four colored candles and surrounding a fifth white candle in the center. We light one candle beginning on Sunday of the first week of Advent; two candles the second week, and so on, until all four colored candles are lit during the fourth and final week.
The circle shape of the wreath symbolizes Christ, who is eternal, with no beginning and no end. The evergreen branches also symbolize Christ, who came into the world to give us never-ending life. As the glow deepens each week from an increasing number of lit candles, the wreath reminds us to increase our readiness for the birth of the Light of the World.
Three violet candles remind us that Advent is a season of preparation for receiving Christ. The rose candle is lit for the first time on the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word "rejoice," to anticipate our joy during the Christmas season.
Our Advent wreath has a white candle in the center to symbolize Christ. We light the Christ candle for the first time at dinner on Christmas Eve before we attend midnight Mass.
A large Advent wreath is displayed prominently in our parish church. Our Advent wreath at home is much smaller, but it reminds us in a big way of the larger wreath in our church and our link to our parish and the Advent season.