Advent wreath: four candles for the waiting time |

The original wreath in the “Rauhen Haus”, a home for needy children in Hamburg, was decorated by Johann Hinrich Wichern with 20 small red candles for the weekdays and four large white candles for the Advent Sundays.

Traditional Advent wreath |  Image: picture-alliance / dpa

A candle was lit every day during Advent. At first the candles burned in the Rauhen Haus on a wooden wagon wheel, later the wheel was decorated with fir branches. This wreath of lights first spread in the Protestant cities of northern Germany. In Catholic areas, this custom only caught on in some cases after the Second World War. Today there are only four candles for Sundays on the normal Advent wreath.

Formerly red candles, now colorful

For a long time the candles on the Advent wreath were classically red, today they are available in all imaginable colors. Even when it comes to decorating the green wreath, almost anything is allowed today – from glass balls, ribbons and toadstools made of felt to dried fruit. The custom of putting up an Advent wreath has spread worldwide from Germany. According to a survey, around 80 percent of Germans consider an Advent wreath to be part of the run-up to Christmas.

Symbol of the light

The Advent wreath not only shortens adults and children the waiting time until Christmas, it is also a symbol: “The wreath stands for eternity or is interpreted as a symbol for the sun, the earth or as a symbol of God. The candles stand for the light that Christmas is given to people, “writes the Evangelical Church.

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