- The wreath marks the passage of time.purple advent candles image by Photoeyes from Fotolia.com
Probably the most familiar symbol of Advent, the evergreen wreath contains four candles. The first, second and fourth Sunday are represented with purple candles, while the third Sunday's candle is pink. Each week, the appropriate candle is lit. The circle represents both the many years between the fall of Adam and the coming of the savior Jesus Christ, as well as the time between his death and Resurrection and the anticipated Second Coming.
The Jesse Tree
- Families read from the Bible while decorating the Jesse tree.bible image by Photoeyes from Fotolia.com
Used in the home and school, Catholics decorate a tree with different symbols of the ancestors of Christ. For example, people use a dove as the symbol of God, a ladder as the symbol of Jacob and a stone altar as the symbol of Elijah. Every day during Advent, a new ornament, usually hand made, is placed on the tree and the corresponding Bible story is read out loud.
Saint Nicholas Day
- Santa is based off of Saint Nicholas.Santa image by Likilomi from Fotolia.com
Saint Nicholas, the inspiration for Santa Claus, is celebrated on December 6. On the eve of Saint Nicholas day, children leave out their shoes in hopes that he will bring them gifts. The celebration is actually very similar to the events of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day; however, the activities are based on the real saint and not the fictional figure of Santa Claus. Many Catholics who give gifts on Saint Nicholas day also give them on Christmas.
The Mary Candle
- The Mother of God plays an important role during Advent.mary image by charles taylor from Fotolia.com
December 8 is the Solemnity, or Feast, of the Immaculate Conception. On this day, Catholics rejoice that Mary agreed to give birth to the Son of God. The Christ candle, a decorated candle that is lit on Christmas Eve and Sundays throughout the year as a reminder of Jesus' birth, becomes the Mary candle. Catholics decorate it with a blue ribbon or a picture of Mary, and light it during meals as a reminder of Mary's commitment and hope.
- Catholics wait for their Messiah's birth.Jesus Christ image by Dmytro Korniyenko from Fotolia.com
Generally for children, the empty manager serves as a symbol of service, kindness and anticipation. Every time the child performs a good deed, she is given a piece of straw to place in the manger as a birthday gift to the Baby Jesus. Finally, on Christmas morning, families place Baby Jesus in the manger. Churches may also set up larger displays outside as celebrants eagerly await the birth of Christ.