How to Make and Use an Advent Wreath for Kids

Christmas Traditions

Joe’s family used an Advent wreath when he was small, and he wanted to continue that tradition with our family. He grew up Catholic, and I didn’t, but I was happy to continue to observe the tradition.

For our family, the Advent wreath is completely integrated with the Jesse tree as part of our evening routine.

Each night, at dinner, we say a prayer (just a quick, bless our meal kind of prayer), and we let Grace light the candle or candles. We turn the dining room lights down and eat (mostly) by candle light.

At the end of the meal, we do our Jesse tree devotion, prayer, songs, and story, and then we blow the candle out.

That’s the whole of the tradition for us.

The Advent Wreath is so simple that you can do as much with it (or as little) as suits you. If you want to skip the Jesse tree but do the Advent wreath, do that. If you want to do the Jesse tree devotionals with the Advent wreath and skip the tree and its ornaments, do that.

How to Make an Advent Wreath for Kids

Our Advent Wreath is very simple.

jesse tree

We purchased an Advent Wreath ring at the craft store. It’s nothing more than a green wire ring with 4 candle stick holders attached to it. We wrapped an inexpensive evergreen garland around the ring and eventually put a few red and silver decorations in it.

At the beginning of the season, we put four taper candles (three purple and one pink, although we waited too long this year to get them and had to settle for 4 lavender ones instead) in the ring and one large, white pillar candle in the center.

That’s it.

Your Advent wreath can be as simple or as fancy as you want. It can be a wreath or a garland piled around 5 pillar candles. It could be a styrofoam wreath with 4 taper candles stuck into it and some ribbon wrapped around it to make it pretty.

Or you could buy an actual Advent Wreath. They’re not available at Walmart or Target (at least, not in the ones I’ve visited), but they are widely available in Christian book stores and online.

No matter how you make your Advent wreath, the key is to use it with your children.

What do the candles mean?

Candle one – Hope and patience

Candle two – Love

Candle three – Joy (this is the one that’s usually pink, but it’s okay for it to be purple, too.)

Candle four – Peace

Candle five – the Savior (this is the white pillar in the center of the wreath)

When do you light the candles?

At many churches, they light the first candle on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. It is put out after the service. On the following Sunday, they light the first and second candle. On the third Sunday, they light the first, second, and third candles. On the last Sunday of Advent (the Sunday just before Christmas), they light all four candles.

On Christmas Eve, they light all four candles plus the white pillar.

I don’t live in a church, so we do it a little differently.

We light the first candle just before dinner on the first day of Advent, and we blow it out after dinner. We light this same candle before dinner every night during the first week. During the second week, we light both the first and second candles. During the third week, we light the first three candles. During the fourth week, we light all four candles.

On Christmas Eve morning, we light the white pillar candle, and we leave it burning all day (as long as safety permits). We light the four colored candles at dinner, just like we have been.

But we’re not Catholic

Neither are we. We just like the tradition. If it sounds like something your family would like, give it a try.

5 Days of Christmas Traditions

To celebrate the first week of Advent, I’ll be talking about Christmas traditions every day this week.

Monday – Our Christmas Traditions

Tuesday – Jesse Tree & Truth in the Tinsel

Wednesday – Advent Wreath (that’s today!)

Thursday – Coloring the Advent

Friday – Christmas countdown chain and other countdown ideas

Other blogs celebrating 5 Days of Christmas this week

All of these bloggers are participating in the 5 Days of Christmas this week. Go see what they’re doing:

A Slob Comes Clean – Getting Your Home Company Ready

Somewhat Crunchy – Christmas with Dairy Allergies

Spell Outloud – Children’s Books

Mama’s Learning Corner – Children’s Crafts

Many Little Blessings – Edible Gifts

Sunflower Schoolhouse – Decorations

An Oregon Cottage – Christmas Cookies

Catholic Icing – Wishing Jesus Happy Birthday

The Traveling Praters – Traveling

The Homeschool Classroom – Gifts Kids Can Make

Mama’s Laundry Talk – Laundry Gifts

 

© 2011, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. says

    For several years, I have wanted to do some form of advent and a Jesse tree with our family, but I always seem to complicate things in my mind and never get around to it. I need to find a very simple way – and just start. Thank you for the encouragement.

  2. says

    The Advent Wreath is not a (Roman) Catholic tradition. It is derived from a pagan tradition amongst Germanic peoples (as is the Christmas tree and much as the Yule log, holly and mistletoe have from the Scandinavian and Celtic peoples) and found its way into Christianity among both Roman Catholic and Protestant (mostly Lutheran) Germans. It has spread widely as a tradition amongst many Christian and non-Christian denominations alike.

    A nice article that should help encourage more to try this simple yet often so meaningful tradition.

    • says

      There are a lot of myths out there concerning the origination of many Christmas traditions. One story says that the Christmas tree, for example, was begun by Martin Luther himself. There is a lot of evidence that says advent wreaths began as a sign of hope and waiting, though it wasn’t necessarily associated with Christmas or Christ. I’m okay with that because it’s been a tradition observed by Christians (especially Catholics, but in many other denominations as well) for at least 400 years. I think we can say then that it’s a Christian tradition at this point. :)

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