In 2013, the Advent season begins on December 1st. Advent is what Christians call the four Sundays before Christmas. Advent is another word for arrival; during the Advent season, Christians prepare for the imminent arrival of the Christ.
For Christians, Christmas is one of the most important times of the year. The central doctrine of Christianity is that God came to earth in the form of a human child, who would one day accept the punishment for all the wrongdoings of people. Christians typically prepare for Advent by examining themselves and trying to live their lives as Jesus lived. It is a time for celebration, reflection and doing good works.
Candles have always been a part of the midwinter time, even before Christmas was celebrated. It is fitting that candles should be involved in the Advent season. For many years, celebrating the four weeks of the Advent season has been an essential element of the Christmas season for Christians all over the world. The flames of the candles are one of the purest substances on earth and are a fitting representation of spiritual matters. Many Christian churches and families light candles on each Sunday of Advent. Though it is not universal, many denominations use different colors of candles to symbolize different themes.
Purple traditionally represents royalty; it also symbolizes repentance and fasting. Both of these themes are significant to Christians. Though purple is widely used, blue candles, representing the royalty of the Christ-child are gaining acceptance. The purple or blue candles are lit on the first two Sundays of Advent.
On the third Sunday of Advent, a pink candle is lit. Pink represents rejoicing and joy. As Christmas nears, there is a shift from preparing for the arrival of Christ to celebrating His arrival. Christmas is truly a happy time; the pink candle symbolizes this happiness.
On the fourth Sunday, another purple candle is lit. The king is coming to earth, and the purple candle celebrates the majesty and authority Christ, who will be called the Prince of Peace.
A fifth candle, the Christ candle, is lit as part of Christmas Eve services. This candle represents the arrival of the infant Christ and is a meaningful part of the Advent season for many people. The simple act of lighting candles is a ritual that helps many Christians prepare their hearts and minds for Christmas. The Advent season brings the true meaning of Christmas into sharp focus.