Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Advent wreaths

Advent wreaths are believed to have originated in the German Lutheran church, but have since become used in other churches, including the Church of England.  P-LA contains an account of  German advent wreaths, contributed by Marianne von Kahler, of Oxford, in October 1988:

‘In Hamburg (West Germany) where I hail from … about the Advent wreath … it must be made of everlasting green, have red ribbons (blood of Christ) around it, and white candles, which are lit week by week, one more when carols are sung.  It is suspended from the central candelabra and we stand under it.’

However, the wreaths now displayed in Anglican churches usually have a white central candle, surrounded by three purple and one pink candle.  According to a notice displayed by the wreath in St Paul’s Cathedral, London, at Christmas 2018:

‘The candles on the Advent wreath are lit throughout the Advent season to remember those who prepared for the coming of Christ.                                        Advent 1 The Patriarchs                                                                                              Advent 2 The Prophets                                                                                                Advent 3  The Baptist                                                                                                  Advent 4  The Virgin Mary                                                                                          Advent 5  The Christ’

Addendum:  While visiting Avila, Castile & León, Spain, in 2019, on Saturday 30 November two nuns were seen preparing an advent wreath, which was placed in front of the main altar of the Basilica de San Vincente, and on the following day a wreath was observed placed in front of the main altar of the church of the Convento de San José.

Images: upper, Christ Church, Streatham, London Borough of Lambeth, 25 December 2018; St Mary Star of the Sea catholic church, Hastings, East Sussex, 27 December 2018.

Updated 15 December 2019,

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