The time between now and Christmas Day is crazy with all sorts of activities, but I feel that many people lose sight of what Christmas is truly about; I wanted to start a new tradition to help me keep the focus on Christ. Since I knew that Advent wreaths are also designed for home/family use, and not just in churches, I wanted one of my own.
And it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t make something… so here I am with another craft project!
Advent is the first season of the church year, and is a time for reflection and preparation for Christ’s arrival. For 2017, Advent begins on December 3.
As with most objects in Christianity, there is symbolism. The ring of evergreens represent eternal life in Christ. Four candles represent the four weeks of the season and peace, joy, hope, and love. Violet is the color of repentance in the season (and royalty for the King), but blue (for hope) is also used in certain denominations. The rose candle is for joy, the theme of the third Sunday. Some may include a white Christ candle to be lit for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
And, fun fact: the Advent wreath originated with Martin Luther!
When I set out to make an Advent wreath of my own, I looked online for ideas and inspirations… but I ultimately decided to stay true to the symbolism of the parts of the wreath, and keep it traditional.
My supplies: artificial picks of evergreens, berries, and pine cones; a wooden clock face to serve as a base; 8-inch metal wreath candle holder; glass candle holder for the Christ candle; the candles (they actually sell Advent candle sets, which is nice). Oh, and plenty of hot gun glue sticks (I nearly forgot my love-hate relationship with that pesky glue, as it’s been a few years since I last used it).
Not shown here, because they were purchased after this initial supply-shopping trip: wooden napkin rings for “legs”, a cross pendant, and number charms for the candles.
First I cut up the picks into individual pieces. I wanted a nice variety in textures and colors in the evergreens, so I chose three different kinds. I also wanted the berry picks and pine cones to add a little bit more interest.
I needed some sort of base for attaching all of my pieces – this wooden clock face was the size I needed! I glued the metal wreath and glass candle holder onto the wood.
I played around with arranging my cut pieces, and once I settled on a design it was on to gluing those pieces onto my wood base.
After my three kinds of evergreens were attached, I added the pine cones.
The berries were the last to be added. I know it’s not round or in a ring, but it looks roundish… when looking for supplies, I couldn’t really find a good size for an evergreen wreath to fit the candle ring, and wrapping a garland around the metal ring would have made it far too bulky and difficult to craft with. I tried to make my “wreath” look as round as I could.
I glued the napkin rings to the bottom to serve as legs; I wanted this to be raised up a bit from the surface on which I’m displaying the wreath, and to help give the base some height for making it easier to lift and move the wreath.
And here is the finished wreath, with the two last additions.
To know which candles to light, I numbered each candle by using a number charm and some ribbon. Since the candles will be lit unevenly (the 1st Sunday candle will be lit the longest, the 4th the shortest), I wanted to be able to change the order every year so that they can burn somewhat evenly over the years. For now I have ribbon holding these charms, but I may change it out to thin elastic sewn into loops; I’m a little afraid of the ribbon bows catching fire haha.
I wanted the Christ candle to have some embellishment, too, and so I found a nice cross pendant. A sewing pin tacks it to the candle.
So now that I have a wreath… what do I do with it?
There are a lot of books out there about Advent activities, but they’re mainly geared toward children and young families. I wanted something more mature for my mother and I to use, incorporating some readings, responsive prayers, etc. After much digging, I found two pieces:
- Advent Wreath Prayers and Scripture Readings Devotional, which provides prayers and several scripture readings for each Sunday and Christmas.
- The Season of Light: Daily Prayer for the Lighting of the Advent Wreath, by Jay Cormier. This has daily devotionals with prayers and a reading for each day, as well as lighting the candles every day.
I may use the first option this year, as I like that it has more readings. I do own the book (#2), so I will keep it with the wreath in storage.
In total, this wreath cost about $35 to make and approximately 2.5 hours. You can likely buy a wreath (and one that is more wreath/ring-like) for a lower price, but I love that I made my wreath and it is something which can be used for many years. If I’m ever blessed to have a family of my own, I want this to become a part of our Advent/Christmas tradition.
In addition to my wreath at home, my church has Wednesday evening services during Advent, so I will be attending them as well.
Does anyone else have Christmas/Advent traditions that are church-related?