"Candle Candle Burning Bright.."

Candle Candle burning bright,
On our windowsill tonight,
Like the Shining Christmas Star,
Guiding Shepherds from A'far,
Lead some weary travellers here,
That they may share our festive cheer.    (Isobel Shaw)

Whether you are religious or not, there is much to celebrate at Christmas  in fact, many of our traditions have merged with ancient pagan festivals and have resulted in our hanging a wreath on our front doors or having one inside, lit with candles.

The wreath itself hails from a Pagen fire wheel and its' unbroken circle, represents eternity.

The evergreen aspect represents "everlasting life" where as the berried embellishments - holly and mistletoe, have been added over centuries, the latter a gift to ward off evil spirits, the former a more recent addition, red signifying health and prosperity. It has also been documented that the druids considered holly sacred and the association of red and green are now very much part of our Christmas tradition. 

The Advent wreath is more deeply connected to the church. The penitential candles represent the four weeks of advent, lighting one each Sunday leading to Christmas will represent the following:

1. Faith - in ourselves and our children

2. Ideals and aspirations

3. Love, tenderness, kindness, forgiveness and glory

4. Joy - faith, hope, love in us all and peace in our hearts

A fifth candle is sometimes lit on Christmas eve and is set in the centre of the wreath it represents Jesus the light of the world and is usually white.

As with the door wreath, green foliages represent life and some say the 4 candles represent 4000 years of waiting for the birth of Christ. In the catholic church the candles are coloured (three) purple/violet representing hope, and a pink lit on "Gaudete Sunday" which means "rejoice or Joyful Sunday". In protestant churches the candles may be red and cream with the addition of purple ribbon which is signifies royalty - the coming of the King.

It isn't difficult to forage and make your own advent or door wreath, the hedgerows will offer everything you need. I like to add ivy to mine as well as moss and lichen for variety. A cheap metal coat hanger bent into a circle is a good template to start on. You will need to bind and tie the greenery together to make a circle, use garden twine for this. Add berries and cones for colour and texture or simply tie with a beautiful red or purple ribbon. Hang on your door and enjoy.

For an advent wreath, I'd suggest you use a moss or foam frame which any florist will be able to supply you with onto which you can add add your greenery and candles. This coming Sunday 2nd December is the first Sunday in advent 2012. 

At TWHFCo classes, I like to provide lots of foliages such as the evergreens mentioned as well as skimmia and pittosproum, eucolyptus and myrtle. I supply lots of decorations to embellish the wreaths such as fresh and dried friuts as well as seed pods, feathers and ribbons for colour and sparkle. If you wanted to flower up your wreath nearer Christmas, add a few fresh flowers such as red or white roses. Outdoors they will last longer in the cool damp air than they will inside where it is warm and dry.