Advent Wreaths 101 (Everything You Need To Know)

The Catholic tradition of the Advent wreath is a tradition that is near and dear to my heart. You can find all of my Advent resources for families here. When I was growing up, it was one of the only ways we celebrated the liturgical year at home. My mom always used it as a way to keep Christmas focused on Christ, and she always said extra prayers for the season while lighting it. It’s not a complicated process, and it can be an treasured family tradition for years to come. 

But why do we have Advent wreaths? Where does the tradition come from, and how do you start your own? Let’s take a look at Advent wreaths today, starting at the beginning.

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What Is The Advent Season?

It is a liturgical season with the weeks leading up to Christmas. It is a season of joyful anticipation of the coming of our Lord, baby Jesus. The liturgical colors of Advent are purple and “rose” (pink). 

When you attend weekly mass during Advent, you should be able to notice an Advent wreath near the altar! The corresponding candles will be lit. 

Advent Wreath Basics

You have an evergreen wreath on your dining room table that holds 4 candles- 3 purple and 1 pink or “rose” colored candle. The Advent wreath counts down the weeks until Christmas- one candle for each Sunday in Advent. Each week you add another candle that is being lit until finally all 4 are being lit. Sometimes there is a white candle in the middle for actual Christmas

The Symbolism Behind An Advent Wreath

  • The purple or blue candles stand for royalty
  • The pink (or rose colored) candle stands for joy
  • The wreath itself symbolizes how God’s love for us is never changing, like the evergreen, that stays green all year. The circle shape symbolizes how God has no beginning and no end, just like a circle. He always has been, and he always will be. 

What Do The 4 Advent Candles Represent

There are 4 Sundays in Advent, and the starting day changes each year. Each Sunday you add 1 more candle that you light each night. Here are what the 4 candles during Advent stand for:

First Sunday of Advent (purple candle): Hope

Second Sunday of Advent (purple candle): Peace

Third Sunday of Advent (pink candle): Joy

Fourth Sunday of Advent (purple candle): Love 

White candle in the middle for Christmas: Christ candle 

In What Order Do You Light Advent Candles?

Start on the first Sunday of Advent with the purple candle directly across from the pink candle. Then go around clockwise, lighting one new candle each week.

What you need to start your own Advent Wreath

  • 3 purple candles (or blue, but purple is more common. They are the color of “royalty”)
  • 1 pink candle (this is technically “rose colored”… not pink. But yeah, pink)
  • Something to hold or display your candles on your dining table, usually an evergreen wreath with 4 candle holders inserted
  • Optional- A white “Christ candle” for the middle and/or white or gold candles to replace the pink and purple ones for actual Christmas
  • Optional- A candle snuffer. The kids just like this as opposed to blowing the candles out. It’s fun. 🙂

Where Can I Find Advent Candles?

Candles in these colors can be hard to track down this time of year, and expensive even if you find them.  Check your local Hobby Lobby in the Christmas section, order them early, or paint your own pillar candles with melted pink and purple crayons.  (A super cheap solution!) I have also had lucky finding them at Ikea, or craft stores like Michael’s.

You can order pink and purple Advent candles from Amazon, which would probably be your easiest option. Here are some affordable choices:

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Where To Find An Advent Wreath

Get a non flammable wreath! My mom tended to opt for the ones all covered with beautiful dry pinecones, and it literally caught out house on fire. So I never use actual evergreen or pinecones- only non flamable stuff around our candles! 

Here are some options of Advent wreaths you can order on Amazon:

Advent Wreath Prayers

When you first set out your Advent wreath for the season you can do a blessing of the Advent wreath.

Your family can also add special prayers for each Sunday of Advent, and even additional prayer for each evening when lighting your candles. Often, our parish provides a special Advent prayer devotional to be used during the season. 

Find my Advent and Christmas blessings here.

I also found this book of Advent wreath prayers over on Amazon.

And here is a special Advent dinner devotional book that’s especially for kids! Here’s what the listing says: This booklet offers daily prayer for use with the Advent Wreath at mealtime, in a large font, that is concise, relevant, and to the point without giving up the purpose of the prayers. Children will be able to do the reading, focus on the concept for the week due to the repetition of the basic prayer, while keeping peace at mealtime due to the brevity of the devotions.

How To Use Your Advent Wreath

The basic idea is you light one candle for each week, waiting for Christmas.

Since the first Sunday of Advent moves, search up the “first Sunday of Advent” adding your current year to the search bar. There are always 4 Sundays in Advent. 

On the first Sunday of Advent, light the first candle during before dinner prayers. Every evening that week, continue lighting the first candle.

On the second Sunday of Advent, light the first candle and also the second candle, repeating with these 2 candles each evening.

Keep going until all 4 candles are lit!

On Christmas day you can add a white Christ candle to the center of the wreath, or replace the pink and purple candles with white or gold. Continue lighting these each night through the 12 days of Christmas!

More Advent Wreath Resources

All of my Advent wreath resources can be found here.


  1. Laura McWright says

    The book you suggested does not follow the same names/meanings for the candles. How did you get around this inconsistency?