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The advent wreath is made of fir twigs and four candles are attached. One more candle is lit for each Advents Sunday. The Advents Sunday are the four Sundays before Christmas. The wreath is also decorated with fir cones, small pine cones, little red and white mushrooms and ribbons. The tradition are red candles and ribbons. Any more the wreath is decorated in many colors. In large houses, shops and churches the wreath hangs from the ceiling. In smaller homes the wreath is placed in the middle of the table. When the first Advent come along, my family, would sit around the table, light the first candle. Each Sunday one more till all the 4 candles are lit. One would read out of the bible, another one read a poem and we all would sing christmas carols. After that we had coffee or hot chocolate and baked Christmas cake and cookies. One of the poems I still remember:

Advent, Advent ein Lichtlein brennt.
Erst eins, dann zwei, dann drei, dann vier,
dann steht das Christkind vor der Tür.

Advent, Advent one candle is burning.
First one, then two, then three, then four,
then the Christ child is standing in front of the door.

We still do the same thing here in the USA. But we say another poem, too.

Good tidings we bring of Advent's return.
Look, the first candles already burn!
Christmas rejoice! Be of good cheer, for the Lord is near.

I was told a story when I was little how the Advents wreath got started. I am not quite sure if that is right, maybe someone else knows the story better. About 150 years ago. In Hamburg Germany a Pastor (Johann Wichern born 1808, died 1881), who had an interest in the poor young people. He build a house in Hamburg, I think is was named 'Das Rauhe-Hause'. There they had a place to sleep, to eat and they learned a trade. Every year around the Advents time the pastor held a service every evening. There the kids where told about Advent and Christmas. They also sung many songs. Every day from beginning the first of December one candle was lit till 24 candles where burning. The candles where placed around a wagon wheel that was hanging from the ceiling. Later they started to trim the wagon wheel with fir twigs, fir cones and fruit. A lot of people liked this tradition and they would like to have a wagon wheel at home, too. But there was no place in the homes to hang a wagon wheel with 24 candles. That is when it started on the Advents Sundays (4 sundays ) to light a candle. That is why the 4 candles.

Katharina Hines


Im Tale sind die Blumen nun verblüht
Und auf den Bergen liegt der erste Schnee.
Des Sommers Licht und Wärme sind verglüht,
In Eis verwandelt ist der blaue See.
Wie würde mir mein Herz in Einsamkeit
Und in des Winters Kälte angstvoll gehn,
Könnt ich in aller tiefen Dunkelheit
Nicht doch ein Licht des Tages sehn.
Es leuchtet fern und sanft aus einem Land,
Das einstens voll solcher Lichtern war,
Da ging ich fröhlich an der Mutter Hand
Und trug in Zöpfen noch mein braunes Haar.
Verändert hat die Welt sich hundertmal
In Auf und Ab- doch sieh, mein Lichtlein brennt!
Durch aller Jahre Mühen, Freud und Qual
leuchtet es hell und schön: Es ist Advent.

Advent In the meadow the flowers are out of bloom
In the mountain there lays the first snow.
The summers light and warms is no more glowing,
The ice has transformed the blue lake.
My heart would be very lonely
And I would go fearful in the Winters cold.
If I could not see in this darkness
the light of the day.
It shines far and soft from an other country
That once was full of lights
I walked on my mothers hand
and had my brown hair in breads.
The world has changed hundreds of times
Thru Up and Downs, but look, my light is burning
Thru all the years of trouble, joy and pain
it shines bright and beautiful: It is Advent.
poem translated by Katharin Hines

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