November 29, 2021 REL Seasons - Advent/Christmas, REL Asset - Activity, REL Catechetical - K–6
Lighting the Pink Candle on the Advent Wreath
By: Kathy Hendricks
Learn about the meaning and symbolism of the Advent wreath and its colors. In this article, you will discover why and how Catholics celebrate Advent and the significance of the pink candle on the Advent wreath. It also includes activities and prayers to use with the Advent wreath throughout the liturgical season.
The Advent Wreath
The four weeks of Advent are filled with joy and hope. Catholics celebrate this season at home and in our parish. One way of celebrating is by gathering around an Advent wreath, an evergreen wreath with four candles—one for each week of the Advent season. The Advent wreath is a symbol of expectation for the coming of Christ. The wreath’s circular shape recalls all the years the people waited for the Messiah. During each week of Advent, one candle on the wreath is lit until, by the end of Advent, all four candles are lit.
The Advent wreath has three violet, or purple, candles and one rose, or pink candle. On the first Sunday of Advent the first purple candle is lit. On the second Sunday of Advent the first and second purple candles are lit. On the third Sunday of Advent, the first and second purple candles and the rose, or pink, candle, are lit. On the fourth Sunday of Advent, all four candles are lit.
Download a printable My Advent Wreath Activity that invites children to color the candles on the Advent wreath and compose a prayer for each week of Advent.
What Does the Pink Advent Candle Mean?
The liturgical color for Advent is purple, symbolizing our preparation for the coming of Christ. The violet color of the three purple candles on the Advent wreath reflect this symbolism and serve as reminders of the prayer and penance of this season.
But on the third Sunday of Advent, the pink candle on the Advent wreath is lit. Long before pink became a symbol of breast cancer awareness, it took prominence in the third week of Advent as a sign of joy. “Gaudete” (meaning “rejoice”) Sunday marks the halfway point on our Advent journey. Paul’s letter to the Philippians encapsulates the joy that marks our faith in God’s eternal love and mercy. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). The pink Advent candle represents the joy of anticipation for Christmas and is lit on Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday. The rose color of this third candle reminds us that the joyous feast of Christmas is near.
Throughout Advent, the priest wears violet or purple vestments, except on Gaudete Sunday, when vestments are rose like the pink Advent candle. For more information about liturgical colors, download the Liturgical Colors Mini Lesson & Activity.
Prayers for Lighting the Advent Wreath
When lighting the Advent wreath, Catholics pray traditional or original prayers, like these printable prayer cards and reflections.
Pray a unique prayer for each week, guided by the Prayer for Lighting the Advent Wreath printable weekly prayer cards.
The single and powerful Prayer for the Advent Wreath Prayer Card focuses on God’s mercy.
Joy, like hope, is often mistaken for something it is not. It doesn’t equate with happiness or excitement, both of which can come in short bursts and flame out as quickly as they emerge. Joy is deep-rooted and grounded in an interior sense of well-being. It often emerges at unexpected times and in unusual ways. Paul was witness to this. He was able to encourage his followers to rejoice even though he had been subject to humiliation, rejection, intimidation, and incarceration. He gives witness to Phillip Neri’s observation that there is no such thing as a sad saint.
Much as we banter around the word joy during the holidays, true joy seems to be in short supply as we rush around trying to put every Christmas tradition in order. Nevertheless, it seems that the simplest things bring the most joy. When our children were small, we let them take down their stockings first thing on Christmas morning. While they loved the unwrapping of presents from under the tree, it was the little trinkets and pieces of candy they found in their stockings that brought the greatest squeals of delight.
As the pink Advent candle sheds additional light on this Advent season, perhaps it can caution us against being killjoys. Might we, in the words of the prophet, share with each other the “oil of gladness” (Isaiah 61:3)? By bringing comfort, compassion, and companionship to all of our holiday activities we infuse each one with joy. In the process, we might reclaim a child-like delight in simple gifts that express our love and happiness at being beloved by a God of infinite joy.
Take an inventory of your holiday traditions and consider which ones bring joy and which ones have become a burden. How might you increase your level of rejoicing this Advent? Download the Joy to the World prayer and use it for a joyful Advent season.
These free printable resources can be used alongside the Advent wreath throughout the season of Advent. To learn more about the season of Advent and discover even more liturgical resources, visit Sadlier’s Liturgical Seasons page.