Advent Wreaths and Calendars
Advent wreaths and calendars are an old Protestant custom, which originated in Eastern Germany. The traditional advent wreath is made from evergreen branches to symbolize God's ever-lasting presence. In the wreath are four candles -- three purple candles that represent penance and one pink one to represent the hope of the coming joy. Each candle represents one of the four weeks before Christmas. During the week of Christmas, the candles are changed to white to represent the fulfillment of the miracle of the birth of the Christ child.
Like the advent wreath, an advent calendar counts down the month before Christmas Eve. Instead of marking each week, however, the calendar marks every day. The tradition dates back to the early 19th century, when Lutheran families made a chalk line on their front door for every day in December until Christmas Eve. Today that tradition has evolved in the advent calendar, the style and symbolism of which are as varied as the days on the calendar itself. Many families use calendars with little windows or doors, behind which they hide candies, stickers or other treats to sweeten the anticipation of Christmas.
Christmas Traditions: Advent Calendars
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