Glossary of Terms: Term definition

Advent wreath

Wreaths used during the observation of Advent. Advent wreaths are of two basic types. The first is a circle, generally of evergreens, which is hung in the sanctuary of the church as part of the special decorations for the Advent season. Wreaths of evergreen and other materials are increasingly used during Advent to decorate the exterior doors of churches and people's homes.

The other basic form of the Advent wreath is that of a circle holding four candles. Generally the color of all four candles is purple (although it is an increasing practice for the third candle to be pink or rose). These candles are lit in a special sequence during worship services on the four Sundays of Advent. A candle is lighted on the first Sunday of Advent, and on each successive Sunday an additional candle is lit.

In recent years it has become customary to have a larger white candle in the center of the Advent wreath. This is often called the "Christ candle" and is lit at the Christmas Eve services and on Christmas Day.

Small Advent wreaths have served as the center of family devotions through Advent. In private or home use, the first candle is lit the first Sunday and every day until Christmas; the second candle is lit on the second Sunday and every day following and so on.

Source: A Dictionary for United Methodists, Alan K. Waltz, Copyright 1991, Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

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