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December 20

Adventskranz (Advent Wreath)

In Germany a lot of households have an Advent Wreath. This is a wreath traditionally made of fir green hanging from the ceiling or standing on a table with four candles for the four sundays in Advent. On the first Advent the first candle is lit, on the second the second candle etc. so that on the fourth Advent all candles are lit. So what is this all about?

As so often it’s a christian Christmas tradition:

With its four candles, the advent wreath should point to the light that came into the world with Christ. In 1839, the Protestant theologian Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881) had a wooden candlestick with 23 candles hung in the prayer room of the “Rauh Haus” in Hamburg for the first time – 19 small red ones for the working days until Christmas, four thick white ones for Sundays.

The originally Protestant custom of the Advent wreath also found its way into the Catholic Church after the First World War, because the symbolism of light was compatible with the liturgical requirements of the Catholic Advent season (1925 Cologne, 1930 Munich).