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What do the 4 candles of Advent represent in order?

What do the 4 candles of Advent represent in order?

The Advent wreath is a circular candle holder that typically contains five candles. Four of the candles represent the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, and the fifth candle represents Christmas Day. The four candles are lit one at a time on each Sunday to mark the approach of Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ. Each candle has a specific meaning and represents an important Advent theme.

The 1st Candle – The Prophecy Candle or The Hope Candle

The first candle, which is purple, symbolizes hope and is called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, especially Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. It represents the expectation felt in anticipation of the coming Messiah. This first candle is lit on the first Sunday of Advent.

Some key reasons for the symbolism behind the first candle:

  • The prophets of the Old Testament, especially Isaiah, awaited the Messiah and prophesied about His coming.
  • In the centuries leading up to Jesus’ birth, there was much hope and anticipation for the Promised One who would deliver God’s people.
  • Lighting this candle reminds us that Jesus’ coming was foretold and fulfilled the prophecies and brought hope.
  • As we look forward to Christmas, this candle represents the hope we have in Christ.

So in summary, this first candle represents the hope for the coming Savior that was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ. The prophets waited with eager expectation for the Messiah, and lighting this candle reminds us of how hope dawned with Christ’s coming.

The 2nd Candle – The Bethlehem Candle or The Preparation Candle

The second candle, also purple, represents faith and is called the “Bethlehem Candle.” It signifies the faith of Mary and Joseph as they prepared for the birth of the coming Messiah. This candle is lit on the second Sunday of Advent.

Some key reasons for the symbolism behind the second candle:

  • The candle reminds us of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and their preparation for Jesus’ birth.
  • It honors their faith in obeying God despite difficult circumstances.
  • Lighting the candle inspires us to develop our faith as we prepare our hearts for Christmas.
  • It represents the eager anticipation of the coming Savior during this season.

In summary, this candle symbolizes the preparation and eager faith as the awaited birth of Jesus drew nearer. It marks the faith of those who were waiting and preparing for the coming Messiah.

The 3rd Candle – The Shepherd’s Candle or The Joy Candle

The third candle, pink, symbolizes joy and is called the “Shepherd’s Candle.” It celebrates the joy the world experienced at the coming birth of Jesus. This candle is lit on the third Sunday of Advent.

Some key reasons behind the symbolism of the third candle:

  • It reminds us of the joyous news the shepherds received from the angels about Jesus’ birth.
  • Their visit to see the newborn Savior is a reason for us to rejoice.
  • The third Sunday is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday, meaning “Rejoice Sunday.”
  • We rejoice as Christmas draws closer each day during Advent.

In summary, this candle represents joy at the nearness of Jesus’ birth. The shepherds were filled with joy when they heard of the Savior’s coming and visited Him. As Christmas approaches, we celebrate this joyful news.

The 4th Candle – The Angel’s Candle or The Love Candle

The fourth candle, purple, symbolizes love and is called the “Angel’s Candle.” It honors the love of God that was shown through Jesus’ birth. This candle is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent.

Some key reasons behind the symbolism of the fourth candle:

  • It reminds us of God’s greatest gift to humankind – the gift of His Son, Jesus.
  • It represents the love of God who sent His only Son to be born that first Christmas.
  • The angels announced the good news of Christ’s birth and God’s love.
  • We are inspired to show love to others as we reflect on God’s love for us.

In summary, this candle symbolizes God’s love and the arrival of the greatest gift, His Son Jesus. The angels announced the glorious news of Christ’s birth, fulfilling God’s promise of a Savior because of His vast love.

The Central White Candle – The Christ Candle

The fifth candle, white, goes in the middle and represents the birth of Christ. This candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Day.

The reasons behind the Christ Candle:

  • The white candle reminds us that Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God who was born on Christmas to save us.
  • It represents His purity and perfection.
  • The color white symbolizes the holiness of Christ and light that came into the world.
  • This central candle represents the arrival of the true Light of the World, Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

So the central white candle signifies Jesus Christ, the promised Savior whose birth we celebrate on Christmas. The other candles lead up to the lighting of the Christ candle.

Summary of the Symbolism

In summary, here are the meanings behind each candle:

1st Candle Hope
2nd Candle Preparation
3rd Candle Joy
4th Candle Love
Central Candle Christ

Each candle marks the coming of Christ with deeper meaning for the Advent season. The lighting of the candles offers us a visual way to prepare our hearts as we look forward to celebrating Jesus’ birth at Christmas. This special tradition enriches our worship and focuses our attention on the true meaning of the season.

The History Behind the Advent Wreath

The tradition of the Advent wreath began by German Lutherans in the 16th century. However, it did not gain widespread popularity until the 1930s. Originally, the wreath was made of evergreens with a variety of symbolism:

  • The circular shape represents God’s unending love and the eternal life He offers us through Christ.
  • The evergreen leaves remind us that life persists even through the winter cold and darkness.
  • The prickly leaves represent the crown of thorns Jesus wore during His Passion.
  • The candles bring light into the darkness, representing Jesus the light of the world.

In more recent times, various Christian denominations have adapted the wreath for use in worship services. The lighting of the candles and meanings behind each one developed alongside the wreath’s growing popularity. While traditions vary, the central theme is always anticipating the arrival of the Christ child at Christmas through symbols of hope, peace, joy, and love.

How the Wreath Is Used in Worship Services

The Advent wreath is used by a variety of Christian denominations as part of their Advent services. There are some common practices in how it is incorporated:

  • The wreath is displayed in a prominent place in the front of the church.
  • Four outer candles encircle one central white candle placed in the middle.
  • Each week in Advent, an additional candle is lit during services.
  • Prayers, readings, or songs accompany the lighting as meanings are explained.
  • Colors vary but are often purple, pink, and white based on tradition.
  • Families light candles at home leading up to Christmas Eve or Day.

This meaningful tradition focuses our eyes, minds, and hearts on the birth of Christ as we prepare for our Christmas celebrations. The wreath serves as a visual representation of the season and its profound significance.


The Advent wreath beautifully represents the focus of the season leading up to Christmas. The lighting of its candles makes tangible the anticipation and progression toward remembering Christ’s birth. This practice enriches Advent worship in churches and homes as special meanings are tied to each candle. The wreath continually draws our attention back to the profound love of God that was shown through sending His Son into the world to be our Savior.

The four outer candles represent hope, preparation, joy, and love. The inner white candle signifies the arrival of Jesus, the pure Lamb of God and Light of the World. As the wreath is lit progressively each Sunday, our hearts prepare room for the celebration of Christ’s coming with hope, faith, joy, and love through God’s incredible gift of His Son.