Christmas is the season of light. We celebrate Christ’s birth so many years ago in a stable where the star of Bethlehem shined brightly over where He lay. A flame at night, the moon, and stars would have been there only light on a dark evening.
Today we carry the light of Christ by burning candles at Church and in our homes during the Christmas season. We also decorate our homes with lights and illuminate beautiful Christmas trees. The Advent wreath which holds four candles is also traditional symbol in many homes during the season of Christmas.
The tradition of placing Christmas candles in windows dates back to the very beginning of Christianity. A candle was lit on Christmas Eve to symbolize Christ and His coming. It burned throughout the night in memory of the nativity- lighting the way for Mary and Joseph when they could find no shelter. This candle lighting custom still continues in many European countries today. In the United States, beginning in the 1930’s, Colonial Williamsburg historic area began using candles in the windows of it’s buildings during the Christmas season. It has been a part of the area’s Christmas celebration ever since. The use of real flame candles was a fire concern for private home owners until the 20th century when the electric candle used in a window took hold and is used in this country today.
The Christmas Tree originated in Germany in the 16th century. The German people decorated their trees with roses, apples, and colored paper. It is believed that Martin Luther a German preacher was the first to light a Christmas tree with candles. A story is told that while walking through the forest one night he was amazed by how vibrant the stars were shining through the fir trees. He arrived to his home and placed a tree indoors with glowing candles attached to it. The Christmas tree was brought to America by the Pennsylvania Germans in the 1820’s.
The word Advent means coming or arrival. During the Advent season Christians work to prepare themselves for Christ coming. Advent symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals, they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present today, and that he will come again. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day and ends on Christmas Eve. The Advent wreath is a symbol of the season. It is a circular wreath with 4 candles, three purple and one pink. One candle is lit each week. The light reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world and comes into the darkness of our life to bring hope. It also reminds us that we are called to be a light to others in the world. The wreath is a symbol during the Christmas season for those in the Church as well as in believers homes. During this Christmas season may we all see the light of Christ in every candle burning bright! May we try to be a light for others.