A Modern Day Fairy Tale: What Is Advent & Why Should We Celebrate? {+ A DIY Paper Advent Wreath for Kids}

Friday, November 13, 2015

What Is Advent & Why Should We Celebrate? {+ A DIY Paper Advent Wreath for Kids}

**A huge thanks to Family Christian for sponsoring today's post. All thoughts are my own.

We've all heard of an advent calendar, right? Perhaps you even have one in your home. But do you actually know what Advent is? Is it merely a fancy name for the countdown to Christmas day? I have to admit, as big of a Christmas fan as I am- I was honestly clueless about Advent until very recently! Having always attended a nondenominational Christian church, it just was not a tradition that was celebrated in the church. But once I found out more, I could not wait to incorporate it into my family's holiday celebration. It truly is a tradition that I believe ALL Christians- regardless of denomination can benefit from. Today, I'm sharing what I've learned with you!

So, what exactly is Advent?

To put it simply, yes in some ways it is a sort of countdown to Christmas day... but it is also much more than that. Advent means 'coming of Christ', and the Advent season is a great time to reflect and get our hearts in the right place to celebrate the birth of Jesus! It is NOT just a countdown, but a celebration and tradition all on its own marked with scriptures and the lighting of candles.

When is Advent celebrated?

Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day and continues on over the next three Sundays. For 2015, that means that Advent begins on November 29.

How is Advent celebrated?

On the first Sunday of Advent, one of the purple candles on the advent wreath is lit. On week two, both the first candle AND a second purple candle are lit. Week three, light both purple candles and the pink candle. On the 4th and final week, light all candles. If using a white center candle, this will be lit on Christmas. During each lighting, a scripture is read and a prayer given.

Advent calendars can be used as well to provide a daily countdown, and daily scripture readings to prepare our hearts for Christmas. (Advent calendars start on December 1st.)

What do the wreath and candles mean?

In my research, I have found that the meaning of these symbols may vary from family to family, church to church, but I have shared the most common interpretations I have found.

  • The Wreath. With its evergreen leaf and endless circle shape, the advent wreath represents the eternity of God...always constant, never changing. (Note: not everyone uses an evergreen wreath for advent either!)
  • Purple Candle, Week One. Sometimes called the 'Prophecy Candle', this first purple candle represents HOPE. This symbolizes the hope and expectation that the Messiah was coming.
  • Purple Candle, Week Two. This candle is sometimes called 'The Bethlehem Candle'. While candles one and three tend to mean the same in most traditions I found, weeks two and four did have several variations. Most typically, forgiveness and preparedness. This candle can remind us that we are sinners in need of a Savior to forgive our sins and to remind us to prepare our hearts for Christ.
  • Pink Candle, Week Three. This is sometimes called the 'Shepard's Candle' and represents joy! This is probably my favorite week, because Christmas truly is the season of joy. This reminds us of the joy we feel in anticipation of Christmas and the joy God's people felt at the anticipation of the Messiah's arrival.
  • Purple Candle, Week Four. This is sometimes called that 'Angel's Candle' and most commonly represent's God's love. A reminder that God loved us so much that He sent us His son to save us from sin. 
  • White Center Candle. Not all advent wreaths feature this fifth candle to be lit on Christmas day, but for those that do, it is sometimes called the 'Christ Candle'. This represents Christ and purity. 

Why should Christians celebrate advent?

As Christians we know that Christ is the center of the holiday season, but honestly, that can easily get lost in the hustle and bustle of the season. Celebrating Advent helps us to remember that. It gives us a time set aside that we can truly pause and reflect on Christ's birth and the reason we celebrate.

Personally, I find this even more important for those of us with children, who- even moreso than us- are bombarded with messages of gifts, gifts, gifts! Advent is a great way to teach them, and can be a lot of fun too! You can count down with a fun Veggie Tales Advent Calendar! You can teach them about Christ's birth by reenacting the Christmas story with the Little People Nativity! You can even use an countdown like the Adventures in Odyssey Advent Activity Calendar- which is packed full of devotions and fun family activities designed to help kids count down to Christmas! And you can even make you very own flameless Advent wreath! Check it out!

DIY Paper Advent Wreath for Kids

  • 4 Toilet Paper Rolls
  • Paper Plate
  • Construction Paper (Green & Orange)
  • Paint (Purple & Pink)
  • Glue
  • Scissors

  1. Start off by getting the base for your wreath ready. Cut the center out of the paper plate for an easy base!

  2. Now, get the evergreen leaves ready! Trace your little ones handprint onto green construction paper, several times. (You can save time by doing a fan fold wide enough to fit their hand, and tracing just once.) Cut out handprints.
  3. Glue these onto your base to give it a fun evergreen look. You can leave these flat, or bend the fingers up a bit to fluff it up, if desired.
  4. Onto the candles. We're using old toilet paper rolls to make it easier, but if you don't have any on hand, you can create candles from cardstock or construction paper as well. If you're using TP rolls, it's time to paint. You will need three purple candles and one pink. Allow to dry.
  5. Next up, time for the flame. Simply cut a flame like shape in your orange construction paper. Glue to the inside of the tube so that it sticks out of the top.
  6. Finally, it's time to put it all together! Attach your candles to the wreath. This part can be a little tricky, but there are a few tricks you can try. Cut 2-4 small slits at the bottom and fold up slightly to give you a little more of a flat surface to attach. Use the leaves to help cover and hold. If all else fails (or for a more secure hold), use the hot glue gun to finish it off!

This fun Advent craft is a great way to help teach your kids all about this tradition!

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Do you celebrate Advent? What other ideas do you have to make it more fun for children?


  1. We don't celebrate Advent, but it sounds lovely! Something I might considering doing. The crafts is a great way to entertain children while teaching them!

  2. I've been thinking about doing something like this with our children.

  3. I have honestly never known this!! This sounds like something my son and I would really enjoy doing together!! Way better than the "chocolate a day" version they sell in stores!!

  4. My nieces and I would really enjoy making one. Manger scenes are so beautiful! We have one in our living room all year round.


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