In 1833, protestant pastor Johann Hinrich Wichern founded a mission school for impoverished children in Germany called the Rauhes Haus. Legend has it that during Advent the children asked when Christmas was coming so frequently that Wichern finally took a large wooden wheel, lined it with candles, and lit one candle every day until Christmas.
And so, the Advent wreath was born. For centuries Christians have followed the tradition of lighting one candle each week for the four weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas Day.
The first candle, sometimes called the Prophets’ Candle, represents hope or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah. The second candle is known as the Bethlehem Candle and represents love. The third candle represents joy and is often referred to as the Shepherd’s Candle. The fourth candle is the Angels’ Candle, which represents peace. Sometimes there is a fifth candle, often in the center of the wreath, known as the Christmas candle, which is lit on Christmas Eve.
Each year, graceKIDS! hands out free Advent boxes with activities and devotionals to accompany the lighting of Advent candles. If you don’t own an Advent Wreath (or you’d like to reinvent an old one), check out these fresh, modern takes on the traditional Advent Wreath.
The Cake Stand Wreath
Repurpose an old cake stand to serve as a seasonal reminder of hope, and a beautiful centerpiece for your table. Paint and/or distress a wooden cake stand, arrange 4 or 5 candles of differing heights, add some greenery, and viola! Don’t have a cake stand? Try using a wooden tray, round wooden cutting board, or unfinished wood slice.
The Mason Jar Wreath
We love the simple, homespun beauty of this modern mason jar Advent display. Fill mason jars with epsom salt and a candle, then accessorize with twine and greenery.
The Teacup Wreath
For this wreath you’ll need 4 or 5 teacups. Try shopping at a thrift store for unique and affordable picks, and don’t worry if the teacups don’t match perfectly – that only adds to their charm! Melt the bottom of each candle and press the wax firmly into the teacup. Surround the teacups with all things Christmas, from nuts and berries to festive foliage.
The Bottle Wreath
Prefer a taller, more tapered candle? Check out these beautiful bottles. Be creative – fill your bottles with water and greenery, or leave them empty and decorate the necks. Use clear or colored bottles, tall or short, let the wax drip down the sides, or keep it clean.
The Ring Wreath
Any type of ring mold will work for this wreath. Buy an inexpensive ring mold online, or repurpose an old baking mold. Melt the wax at the bottom of each candle and press it into the mold, then decorate with pinecones and foliage. One of the neat things about this wreath is that it preserves the circular shape of the traditional Advent Wreath, which commemorates God’s never-ending love.
The Box Wreath
Are you beginning to realize you can use virtually anything to create a beautiful Advent Wreath? Go on – dig out that old wooden box you threw in the recycle bin, or the tin can that used to be filled with cookies. The sky’s the limit!
Merry Crafting and Merry Christmas!