The wreath itself is typically a circle of branches from an evergreen tree. This primarily symbolizes eternity, as the circle has no beginning or end. It can also symbolizes God's unending love for us.
The candles themselves symbolize the light of Christ, which grows brighter as the feast of Christmas draws near.
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Violet and Rose Candles
Three of the four candles are traditionally violet in color, corresponding to the liturgical color used in Catholic churches. This symbolizes penance, prayer and sacrifice, while also reminding us of Christ's kingship. The rose color is one of joy that signals the upcoming conclusion of the Advent season.
At times red candles are used. This can remind us of Christ's sacrifice of blood on the cross, as well as the "red apple" that was often used in medieval Christmas plays, recalling the fall of Adam in the garden and the need of a savior.
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A total of four candles are typically used, representing the four Sundays of Advent. Also, it is said that each candle symbolizes 1,000 years, with a total of 4,000 years the world waited for the coming of the Savior.
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Hope, Peace, Joy, Love
In other traditions it is common to see each candle representing a different spiritual theme. This is most often described in the sequence of hope, peace, joy and love.