For most Western Christians, this is the season of advent. The Christian season of Christmas actually begins on Christmas Eve and lasts for twelve days, ending on January 6.
Advent doesn’t get much attention compared to Christmas
Much of the meaning and symbolism of this significant religious season can be found in the Advent wreath.
Wreaths, made from evergreens, are circular. They symbolize eternal life, with no beginning and end, just as we have been promised eternal life in Christ.
Laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering. Pine, holly, and yew mean immortality. Cedar is for strength and healing. Even the decorate holly, with its sharp edges, reminds us of Christ, in the suffering of his crown of thorns. The pine cones symbolize resurrection.
While we associate Christmas and the weeks leading up to it with typical Christmas colors: red, green, white, silver, and gold, the four Advent candles have different colors: three violet and one rose. Violet means penance, sacrifice, and prayer. The rose candle symbolizes joy. On the first, second, and fourth Sundays of Lent, a violet candle is lite.
I can remember that our teacher, Ms. Cox, would have us make wreaths for the church and our houses each year. We would cut the boughs and assemble them in our classroom. The smell of the evergreens and needles would stay there for months. Ms. Cox taught my class five of the six primary/elementary years.
As a kid, I had Advent calendars: sturdy, decorative paper displays with 25 little “windows,” one of which I would open each day of December leading up to Christmas. Each contained a candy or a chocolate. In fact, we used to have them for the boys. I need to look around for some.
Advent is not described in the bible and there is not a lot of money to be made in promoting it but the symbolism of preparing for the birth of the savior enriches the Christmas experience.
After all “Jesus is the reason for the season.”