December 16th -- Lighting the Advent candles in church
One of my favorite things about Christmas is watching the priest light the advent candles during mass. In my home church sometimes it's the priest that lights them each week, and sometimes they call up families to do it. I think it's quite nice to include some of the parishes families to take part in something so important. One of my favorite memories of lighting the advent candles in church was back from high school. My youth group had it's Christmas Retreat at an old convent and when it was time for us to go to mass Saturday night, we walked to the church a block away. When we got outside it was snowing which made everything feel all the more magical. This was a different church with different traditions than our home church, but it was one of my favorite masses of advent. Before the mass even started the priest had the alter serves let down a giant advent wreath that was suspended in the air above the altar -- and I mean it was giant. It was such a different and beautiful way of lighting the advent candles and showing the congregation what the advent wreath symbolizes.
For those of you who don't know, there are four candles -- three purple and one pink. The purple candles are meant to symbolize penitence and fasting -- the color is often a symbol of royalty to show that the new King, Jesus, is coming. The pink candle is meant to symbolize joy which is ever present especially during the Christmas season. These four candles sit in a wreath, which is round in shape to symbolize the eternity of God. Watching someone at church light the Advent candles is another way that the true meaning of Christmas shines through during the chaos of people mainly focusing on what gifts to get for others.