Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Advent wreaths

001Note from Janet Coyle, Childwall, Liverpool, October 2013:

‘Holly [Ilex aquifolium] is an essential part of the Advent Wreath tradition in Christianity.  The word holly can be interpreted as a corruption of “holy”.  Both holly and ivy [Hedera helix], mingled with other greenery, are used to create the “everlasting and eternal circle (which has no beginning or end, like God himself),  The circle made by the holly in the wreath also represents the Crown of Thorns used at the Crucifixion, while the red berries are a reminder of the red drops of blood He shed for us.  The liturgical colours for Advent are purple, so three candles in the wreath are purple.  One is pink, officially rose, and one, in the centre, white.  Rose is the ancient colour for the third Advent Sunday, Gaudete Sunday (Gaudete means rejoice).  It is sometimes associated with Mary rejoicing for the imminent birth of her child.  One candle is lit each Sunday, and the white one is lit on Christmas Day.  Making Advent wreaths is a custom which originated in Germany.  It is still done in many Christian schools and churches.’

Image: St Martha-on-the-Hill, Guildford, Surrey, 5 December 2015.

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