The Advent wreath is a prominent symbol of the Advent season and is used in our churches and our homes as a way to prayerfully count the four weeks of the liturgical season. It consists of a wreath made of evergreens into which four candles have been placed. Beginning on the eve of the First Sunday of Advent, the wreath is blessed and one candle is lit to mark the start of the first week of the Advent season. As each week begins, another candle is lit until all four candles are burning brightly by the Fourth Sunday of Advent. According to tradition, three of the candles are purple and one candle is pink, although all four candles may be purple. The pink candle is lit on the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday (from the Latin word which means “Rejoice!”), as the focus of the season shifts from the Second Coming of Christ to the First Coming of Christ. In the northern hemisphere, the days grow shorter at this time of the year, and the trees and plants drop their leaves as they “die back” in preparation for the long winter ahead. The evergreens on the Advent wreath remind us of the everlasting life promised to us by the gift of Jesus Christ, who came among us to save us from sin and death. The lighting of candles banishes the darkness as a reminder of Jesus Christ, the Light who has come into the world through his birth, and who continues to shine brightly through his Church.