Advent marks the beginning of the church year.
It is a time for reflection in darkness, for renewal of hope and for a movement towards a beginning.
The season of Advent, as it first emerged in the Church in the fourth and fifth centuries, lasted, like Lent, for 40 days. Later tradition developed the Advent we know today, of four Sundays before Christmas Day.
It is a season of expectation and preparation as the Church prepares to celebrate the coming of Christ. Church decorations are simple and sparse, and purple is the traditional colour used. Advent falls at the darkest time of the year, and the natural symbols of darkness and light are powerfully at work throughout Advent and Christmas.
The Advent Wreath...
The Advent wreath is usually a circle of greenery with five candles rising from it. There are four candles on the outside that are purple (sometimes one is pink) and the candle in the middle is white.
The candles are lit in the same order each week so that by the fourth week, the candles have burnt down by different amounts. The pink candle can be lit on the third Sunday, known as Gaudete or 'Rose Sunday'. The fifth, white candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
The custom of Christingles comes from the Moravian church and since the latter part of the twentieth century has become a part of how many churches mark the season (though Christingle services make take place before or after Christmas).
Its success stems from The Children's Society who encourage and resource churches and schools around the country to hold Christingle services.
What the Christingle Means
The lit candle represents Jesus being light in the world
The orange represents the world
The red ribbon represents the blood of Christ
The sweets represent all of God’s creations