Preparation: Four candles

Fork ‘andles?

No not the old Two Ronnies sketch. I was planning on making the next four blogs on each of the four candles of the Advent crown. Then I came upon a snag.there is misunderstanding.

  • Are there just four candles in a circle, or are there five?
  • Is the fifth candle, if there is one, lit on Christmas eve or Christmas day?
  • Are the perimeter candles red, white, purple or three purple and one pink?
  • If there is a pink candle, is it lit on the third Sunday in Lent or the fourth Sunday?

The good news is that you cannot get it wrong. All the above are variations on this Protestant tradition, started by Martin Luther. You can even see Advent crowns in Roman Catholic churches these days; there’s ecumenicalism for you.

The bad news is that local tradition is important. People will say, “It’s always been done like this.” (Meaning: We have done it this way for at least three years.) This means,in theory, that it is likely that you will get it wrong. In practice it means that you will get it wrong, and it will be your fault. This will be remembered for years.

I have studied the history of the Advent crown and thought I would simplify things in order to educate you. What I found was that it cannot be simplified. So here is a short table in order to confuse you.

  • The candles do not represent anything: With the lighting of each candle a little more gloom is dispelled.
  • Each candle represents 1,000 years from creation to the coming of Christ.
  • The four candles represent, in order of lighting, hope, love, joy and peace.
  • The four candles represent, in order of lighting, expectation, hope, joy and purity.
  • The four candles represent, in order of lighting, Prophets/Hope, Bethlehem/Faith, Shepherds/Joy and Angels/Peace – The fifth candle is the Christ candle for purity.
  • The four candles represent, in order of lighting, the Patriarchs, the Prophets, John the Baptist, the Virgin Mary.
  • The pink candle is lit on Gaudete Sunday (Rejoice Sunday in English) the third Sunday in Advent, and represents Joy.
  • The pink candle represents Mary, and is lit on the fourth Sunday in Advent.
  • The second Sunday in Lent is Bible Sunday and in 2017 will be on 10th December. (Except in churches where it isn’t on the second Sunday in Advent and was on Sunday 29th October 2017.)

Do you understand it now? Nope, me neither.


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