The History of the Advent Wreath — Or At Least One Version…

We are only less than halfway into the first week of the season of Advent and I already feel like Charlie Brown’s Teacher every time I open my mouth to speak about it. Perhaps this is one of the occupational hazards of writing an Advent-related resource! Today, I was blessed to be a guest on three different radio shows. On the third show, the hosts and I decided on a non-Advent related topic and yet we still ended up coming around to…you guessed it… Advent.

I’m beginning to wonder if God is trying to tell me something in that not-so-subliminal way He has sometimes. Perhaps it’s “Stop talking so much about Advent and get busy participating in it!” (said in his big, boomy God voice of course)

Today, shortly after the third interview, I ran across this video from the always-wonderful Rome Reports on the history of the Advent Wreath.

I was honestly very happy to find it after the interview since it conflicts a bit with this blog post on the same topic. Both sources seem to point to pre-Christian use of a wreath of greens to mark the passage of time, but give conflicting information about the Christian adaptation of the tradition.

In the end, I don’t think it much matters who began this wonderful tradition. But I will say that I’m glad I live in the part of the world where purple and rose candles are used instead of red. The tie in to the predominant colors of the liturgical season is simply too cool!

I’m going to be on the lookout for additional “histories of the Advent wreath” to share with you, but in the mean time I’d love to hear YOUR history with it. Do you use one? How devoted are you to the practice? Do your kids (or husband) argue over who gets to light the match? Is there a time of day that works best your family?

As an incentive for you to comment I’m going to give away a beautiful Magnificat pop-up Advent Calendar with its accompanying 48 page booklet. Leave a comment below — any comment, but preferably one about Advent wreaths — by noon Pacific time tomorrow, Wednesday December 5th, 2012 and one winner will be randomly selected.

Update: Our winner is Heather R. Keep an eye out for upcoming contests!

About Lisa M. Hendey

Lisa Hendey is the founder and webmaster of and the author of The Grace of YesA Book of Saints for Catholic Moms and The Handbook for Catholic Moms. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and is a frequent television and radio guest and host. Visit her at and connect with her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

  • lynn

    Would like that! My little nephew would love this

  • lynn

    also, to answer you advent wreth question – we light it every night at dinner time. Parents light the candle and kids read a prayer while we light it. Each kids then gets to blow the candle out.

  • Jenny Elliott

    Always good to participate more and talk less. We are all called to be a witness.

  • Marilou Purpura

    What a wonderful blog you have, I came on here to leave a comment so I would enter to win the book, and I am in love with all the articles. I am sitting waiting for dinner to be done, and I can not leave the room, so I really got a chance to read some wonderful articles. Thanks.

    Now I just want to say pick me, I would share it. I have kids, grand babies and my religious education class that just went over this in class, so it would be put to wonderful use.

    I am trying to not purchase anything for myself, I am recovering from knee replacement, and my husband is unemployed (this week who know about next week, lol) being a carpenters wife, I feel very overwhelmed right now. So if you pick me , I promise to share.:)

  • lynnalt

    also, to answer you advent wreth question – we light it every night at dinner time. Parents light the candle and kids read a prayer while we light it. Each kids then gets to blow the candle out.

  • Sarah Ristine

    I have five kids who would love to make this part of our Advent season! So precious!

  • Alicia Hart

    I would love to win this!! We have been using an Advent Wreath that I created from a Yard Sale find for about 3 years and this year we are using your book, “O Radient Dawn”. I also passed on 2 more copies to family and friends to share together.

  • Marya Jauregui

    We would love it. Advent is a time of yearning. Especially for kids !!

  • Genie Elizabeth

    That is so neat! Our Brood would love it. We are also using your Advent booklet. Thanks!

  • Tami Carver

    This would be so cool. Trying to do more this year as a family this Advent! This would really help with the kiddos!

  • Amanda Borenstadt

    We have an advent wreath every year. The kids love lighting it, but they’re good about taking turns. We like to light it before dinner and say a prayer.

  • TracyR

    Had so much fun making our own Advent wreath this year. It turned out better than most you see on the Internet.

  • Andrea Valdez

    My children & I blessed my mom’s advent wreath, they loved it!

  • Barb S

    We use the same wreath my husband used as a kid. But as the kids have gotten older, they’ve become more…creative…about blowing them out. It’s a table-manners nightmare and they love every second of it.

  • Heather R.

    All our Advent and Christmas decorations are in storage – and inaccessible – due to our recent cross-country move … super major bummer!! This sure would be a beautiful addition to our home, and I know our four children would LOVE it!! Thanks and many blessings! :-)

  • Laura Schroeder

    We have young children (4, 2, and 1o months) and we are trying to find new ways to teach them about advent. They love books and I think this would be a lot of fun to read throughout this season. We homeschool and hope to have more children…I’m sure this book will be used a lot!

  • Angie Wolfe

    My little kids would love this…and maybe they wouldn’t nick up my nativity themed Advent candle!

  • Barb Patterson

    Love the video Lisa!

  • Amanda

    Lisa, I’d love to win that. As far as the advent wreath, we use it though its currently MIA. I use a simple booklet printed from a friend’s blog and we read the same prayers for a week. We let the kids take turns lighting with help. :)

  • Mikayla

    My children are just-turned 3yo and soon-to-be 2yo. So we keep our Advent wreath simple. At nighttime I light the appropriate candle(s), we sing the first stanza of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Blow out the candle(s) and that’s it. Short, simple… but I thin kit is just right for their age, and the candle and song should bring an experience of beauty and mystery into their souls.
    Mind you, today I had to ask my soon-to-be-2yo daughter *not* to sing happy birthday. I assured her we could sing happy birthday to Jesus when Christmas comes. Then I had to break it to her that we would also not be having cake tonight.

  • Natalie

    I would love to share this with my family, friends & shudents.