Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Three of the candles are violet-coloured, and one is rose-coloured. On the first evening of Advent (a Saturday), one violet candle is lit. On successive Saturdays, the second violet candle is added, then the rose candle, and finally, the third violet candle.
The wreath is meant to represent God's eternity. The violet candles symbolize faithful expectation, and the rose candle joy and hope.
The first Advent wreath was invented by Johann Hinrich Wichern, a Protestant parson in Hamburg, Germany (sources differ about the year: 1839 or 1848.) He was leading a orphanage. The children first made a wooden ring (another source says it was a chandelier) of 2m in diameter with 28 candles affixed on one side: Four white ones, which were bigger to indicate the advent sundays, and 24 smaller red-coloured candles. During the daily prayer, a child would lighten one candle until on Christmas Eve all of them would burn. The children must have liked this ring so much that they decorated it with evergreen twigs, mainly from fir trees. Later the number of candles was reduced to the four main ones.
It took about 100 years until home decoration with advent wreaths became a custom in Germany. It has now spread to other countries as well.
Many churches use Advent wreaths as part of their Sunday services during Advent.
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