An advent wreath is a symbolic and beautiful way to prepare for the Christmas season. The three purple candles and one pink candle are meant to remind us of the reason for the season.
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While the advent wreath is a long-standing Catholic tradition, its historic origins are unclear. Both pre-Christian Germanic peoples and ancient Scandinavian cultures used candles on wreaths or wheels to look forward to the coming spring.
The three purple candles in an advent wreath represent penance. The pink candle represents joyfulness.
The purple and pink candles are placed on an evergreen wreath which symbolizes the eternity of God and everlasting life.
The purple candles are lit on the first, second and fourth Sundays of Advent. The pink candle is lit on the third Sunday, also called Gaudete, which is a time to be joyful and celebrate the approach of Christmas.
Some advent wreaths have a fifth candle that is white and meant to be lit on Christmas. Alternately, the four colored candles can be replaced with white candles on Christmas.