Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Advent Candles

Our lovely neighbors and friends invited us to their house to make our advent wreaths together. This was doubly nice as it meant I actually got the wreath made on the first day of Advent. Now, in my book, Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas, and varies in length, depending on what day of the week Christmas falls on. I'm also big into using real things. No plastic greens for us! I'm also big into using what we already have around the house.
I've just discovered that thrift shops are a great source of candles! Our candles are from the box of Christmas stuff I keep in the basement, leftover from past projects and set aside for just this use. (A few years ago I found out that buying new candles packaged for Advent--three purple, one pink-- can be ridiculously expensive!)

The basic idea of Advent is it is the season of preparation for Christmas. We are like people waiting in darkness for our Messiah to come to us. We remember his first coming, and prepare for him to come again. Our church put out a little bulletin on preparing for Advent, which reads in part, "It might sound odd, but one symptom of our contemporary lives is that we can often be 'out of touch' with what is going on in our very own hearts." Thus, Advent is a season of introspection, preparation, and longing.

Now, the tradition is four candles in a wreath of evergreens.* They are purple, except for the third week's candle, which is pink. I have heard lots of explanations for this. At our church, the weeks are hope, peace, joy, and love. At Hand in Hand, the kids' school, they are the weeks of the Prophets, the Holy Family, the Shepherds, and the Christ. Go figure. Purple is the color for the liturgical season of Advent because it is the color of royalty, majesty. Gibbie's teacher, Miss Greta (who we will miss terribly next semester!) explained that Christmas is a great mystery. It takes time for us to approach a mystery. The purple reminds us that approaching a mystery is serious, but we need the pink to remember to celebrate the mystery as well, even when we're being serious.
We do daily readings, songs, and prayer, lighting the candles, lighting one more each week. If we use the wreath much, some candles will have to be replaced before Christmas. There is one big, special candle in the center of the wreath for Christmas.
*Despite a wonderful little class I'm in on the historical roots of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, I don't have any idea where the candles and wreath tradition comes from. Maybe I'll find out next week!

I don't think it matters a whit what color the candles are. Mine were white this year because it's what I had. We did decorate them with stripes of the traditional colors. We like the Stokmar candle decorating wax. It comes in a slim box, with about twenty differently, brightly colored sheets of beeswax. It can be tricky to use, and doesn't want to stick to some candles I've tried. No problems this year, though using some of the same candles. Hmm. I would recommend having everything at room temperature, and removing any plastic wrap from candles a while before the project if possible.

I like to stretch the wax by rolling little strips of it thinner with a chopstick or knitting needle. This also makes it easier to manipulate. We also decorated candles for the kids' teachers this way. Gibbie helped make the stripes on one advent candle, and later pressed on some of the pieces to his teachers' candles.

Hopefully more to come soon on our Advent times together, calendar, stories, and songs, as we have more pictures!
We wait in hope for your word to be fulfilled.
We wait in peace for your kingdom to come.
We wait in joy for the glory of our Saviour.
We wait in love for Emmanuel.

1 comment:

amanda said...

What a wonderful advent post, this is fascinating . . . I hope you and your family are enjoying this very special season :)