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Symbolising The Arrival of Christmastide


Finally, the fifth candle represents the birth of Jesus Christ.

On the Eve of Christmas Day dawns, perhaps it is fitting to unravel the rich symbolism encapsulated within the Advent wreath and its ceremonious candles, symbolising the arrival of Christmastide and its profound significance in the Christian faith.


Central to the Advent wreath stands the 'Christ candle,' a radiant embodiment of the commencement of Christmastide. This pivotal candle, adorned in white, is first kindled on Christmas Eve, initiating the Christmastide and often continues to illuminate the Christmas season, extending into Epiphanytide.


Within the wreath, the collection of candles denotes the passage of the four weeks of Advent, embodying the concept of "the light of God entering the world through the birth of Jesus Christ." Although these candles collectively signify the Christian ideals of hope, peace, joy, and love, their individual significance can vary. Traditionally, they represent the anticipation and celebration of these virtues, though their order and colours may differ according to denominational traditions.


The intertwining of candles with Christmas dates back centuries and is cherished across diverse cultures and nations as symbolic representations of the festive season. They have woven their presence through varied historical contexts, each illuminating unique facets of Christmas symbolism.


Ancient records unveil their association with the Winter solstice, a beacon of hope signifying the impending arrival of Spring. In medieval lore, a single grand candle mirrored the guiding star of Bethlehem—a nod to Jesus as 'The Light of the World,' intricately linked to the humble flame of a candle.


Through the ages, the essence of Advent underwent a transformation - from a period of spiritual contemplation regarding Christ's second coming to its modern interpretation as the precursor to Christmas. The Advent wreath, steeped in symbolism, serves as a gentle reminder of the approaching festive celebration.


Crafted in a circular design, these wreaths embody God's eternal love, fashioned from evergreen leaves, symbolising the hope of everlasting life bestowed by Jesus Christ.


The humble Advent wreath gained widespread recognition through its portrayal on the iconic children's TV programme 'Blue Peter' in 1964. Originally fashioned from wire coat hangers and tinsel, it was the introduction of this tradition to most of the broadly Anglican audience, evolving over time as safety concerns led to the candles' replacement with baubles.


More recently, some Eastern Orthodox households have embraced a six-candle Advent wreath, symbolising the longer Christmas fast in Orthodox tradition, echoing the essence of Advent in Western Christianity.


As we celebrate the joyous occasion of Christmas, let us cherish the profound symbolism carried within the glowing embrace of the Advent wreath and candles—a testament to hope, peace, joy, and love, radiating the eternal message of Christ's birth and its enduring significance.



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Every year, Mildmay has many patients who are unable to go home for Christmas. Will you help us to provide them with modest but meaningful gifts?



 

Header image: Kalisa Veer

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