How to Make an Advent Wreath (In Seven Easy Steps)

For many Catholic families, the centerpiece of their Advent celebration is the Advent wreath. It is a very simple item, consisting of four candles, surrounded by evergreen branches. The light of the candles signifies the light of Christ, Who will come into the world at Christmas. (For more information on the history of the Advent wreath, see Preparing for Christmas With the Advent Wreath.)

Children, in particular, find delight in the ceremony of the Advent wreath, and it's a great way to remind them that, despite the Christmas specials on TV and the Christmas music in stores, we're still waiting for the Birth of Christ.

If you've never adopted this practice, what are you waiting for?

Purchase or Make a Wire Frame

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You don't need a special frame for the wreath (though there are many commercial ones available). You can buy a standard wreath frame from most craft shops, or, if you're handy, you can fashion one out of heavy-guage wire.

Frames that are made specifically for Advent wreaths have holders for the candles fastened right on the frame. If your frame does not, you will need separate candle holders.

If you can't purchase or make a frame, you can always arrange the evergreen boughs and candles in a line, perhaps on a mantel, buffet, or windowsill.

Find Some Candles

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Traditionally, the Advent wreath has featured four tapers (long candles that come to a point on the end), one for each week of Advent. Three of the candles are purple; one is rose. If you don't have three purple and one rose candle, don't worry; four white ones will do. (And, in a pinch, any color will suffice.) The colors simply add symbolism to the wreath. Purple reminds us that Advent, like Lent, is a time of penance, fasting, and prayer; while the rose candle is first lit on Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday in Advent, to give us encouragement and to remind us that Christmas is indeed coming.

Cut Some Evergreen Boughs

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Next, cut some evergreen boughs to weave into the wire frame. It doesn't really matter what kind of evergreen you use, although branches of yew, fir, and laurel are most traditional (and tend to last the longest without drying out). For a more festive touch, you can use holly, and if you already have your Christmas tree, you can use small branches trimmed from it. Younger branches are easier to work with in the next step, when we weave the evergreen boughs into the frame.

Weave the Evergreen Boughs Into the Frame

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There's really no right or wrong way to weave the boughs into the wire frame, but you do want to make sure that portions don't stick up so high that they might come close to the candle flame. Choosing younger branches of yew, fir, and laurel is helpful, because they are relatively easy to bend and weave. You don't need to make the wreath look uniform; in fact, some variation will make the wreath look nicer.

If you're making the wreath without a wire frame, simply arrange the boughs in a row on a flat surface, such as a fireplace mantel.

Place the Candles in the Frame

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If your frame has candleholders, place the candles in them now. If the candles do not fit snugly in the holders, light one and let a little melted wax drip into the bottom of each holder. If you put the candles in before the wax sets up, the wax will help to hold the candles in place.

If your frame doesn't have candleholders (or if you're not using a frame), simply arrange the candles in standalone holders alongside the boughs. Always use candleholders, and make sure that the candles fit snugly in them.

Fire and drying branches don't mix (or, rather, they mix too well). If you notice that some branches have dried, remove them and replace them with fresh ones.

The hard work is done. It's time to bless your Advent wreath so that you can begin using it!

Bless Your Advent Wreath

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Now it's time to start using your wreath in your celebration of Advent. The first thing to do is to bless the wreath. Traditionally, this is done on the First Sunday in Advent or the evening before. If Advent has already begun, however, you can bless the wreath as soon as you've finished making it. You can find instructions for blessing the wreath in How to Bless an Advent Wreath.

Anyone can bless the wreath, though it's traditional for the father of the family to do so. If you can, you might invite your parish priest over for dinner and ask him to bless the wreath. If he can't do it on the First Sunday of Advent (or the evening before), you could have him bless it sometime in advance.

Light the Candles

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Once your wreath is assembled and blessed, you can light one purple candle. After lighting it, say the Advent Wreath Prayer for the First Week of Advent. Many families light the Advent wreath in the evening, right before they sit down to dinner, and leave it burning until dinner is finished, but you can light the wreath at any time, especially before reading from the Bible or praying.

During the first week of Advent, one candle is lit; during the second week, two; etc. If you do have a rose candle, save it for the third week, which begins with Gaudete Sunday, when the priest wears rose vestments at Mass. (You can find detailed instructions on lighting the Advent wreath at How to Light the Advent Wreath.)

You can combine the Advent wreath with other Advent practices, such as the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena or daily Scripture readings for Advent. For instance, after your family has finished dinner, you could read the reading for the day and then blow out the candles on the wreath.

Advent comes to an end on Christmas Eve, but you don't have to put the wreath away. Read on to find out how to use the Advent wreath during the Christmas season.

Continue to Use the Wreath During the Christmas Season

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Many Catholics have adopted the custom of placing a single white candle (usually a pillar candle rather than a taper) in the center of the wreath on Christmas Day, to signify Christ, the Light of the World. From Christmas Day through Epiphany (or even through Candlemas, the Feast of Presentation of the Lord), you can light all five candles. It's a great way to remind ourselves that Advent may end when Christmas begins, but, as Christians, we should live every day in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ.

If you would like to incorporate the custom of the Advent wreath into your celebration of Advent, but you don't have the time or the talents necessary to make your own wreath, you can purchase pre-assembled wreaths from online retailers.

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Richert, Scott P. "How to Make an Advent Wreath (In Seven Easy Steps)." ThoughtCo, Dec. 8, 2017, thoughtco.com/make-an-advent-wreath-541638. Richert, Scott P. (2017, December 8). How to Make an Advent Wreath (In Seven Easy Steps). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/make-an-advent-wreath-541638 Richert, Scott P. "How to Make an Advent Wreath (In Seven Easy Steps)." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/make-an-advent-wreath-541638 (accessed December 15, 2017).