Resources for Advent

Advent is the season of preparation for Christmas.

The first Sunday of Advent is the beginning of the Christian year.

Advent Assembly
Advent Assembly PowerPoint
A PowerPoint introduction to Advent. It is suggested that you leave the final slide up and the music playing while you light the first candle on your own Advent Wreath.
Advent Assembly (2m 45s)
Advent Wreath

The Advent wreath is made from evergreen leaves which stand for eternity, God’s eternal love for us (which is ever green, ever new), shown in the promise and birth of the Messiah, his Son.  Holly is traditionally used as part of the wreath, with the sharp points of the leaves reminding us of the crown of thorns (the German name for holly is Christdorn meaning ‘Christ-thorn’).

The circular shape of the wreath (a crown of thorns) also stands for eternity (the ring goes round without beginning or end).

Red berries stand for the drops of blood which Jesus shed for us (in the Christian tradition, the joy of Christ’s birth is always tempered by the knowledge that this child will end his life on the cross).  Sometimes a red ribbon is tied through the wreath – this too stands for Christ’s blood, the cost of our redemption.

The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas.  Purple is the liturgical colour of Advent and rose (or pink) is a special colour that may be used on the 3rd Sunday of Advent (known as Gaudete Sunday meaning ‘rejoice’ from the Latin antiphon at the beginning of Mass: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!’ (cf. Philippians 4:4-5)). In some traditions, the first candle represents prophecy (the prophecy of the birth of a Messiah in Isaiah) or hope, the second love, the third joy, and the fourth peace (sometimes known as the angels’ candle after the angels which appeared singing ‘Glory to God in the highest and peace to men of goodwill’).

Sometimes a fifth white candle is added in the centre of the wreath.  This is lit on Christmas Eve to mark the coming of Christ the Light.

Protestant versions of the Advent wreath tend to use red candles. Catholic versions use the liturgical colours of purple, pink and white.

Blessing of the Advent Wreath

Blessing of the Advent Wreath
Jesuit Institute

as each year comes round anew,
we look forward
to the coming of your Son
and recall his first coming
in the stable at Bethlehem.
We ask your blessing
on this advent wreath +
which reminds us of your gift
of Christ our light.
Bless each of us and make us
more Christ-like this Christmas.
Through Christ our Lord.


Prayer for Lighting Advent Candles
Jesuit Institute

This prayer could be used when lighting the candles of the second, third and fourth weeks of Advent, after the wreath has been blessed in the first week.

as we prepare to celebrate
the birth of your son,
Jesus Christ,
this Christmas,
we pray that we will welcome him into our hearts.
As the light of our advent wreath
grows stronger,
week by week,
make us strong in following him
in the love and the peace
we show to others.
Through Christ our Lord.


Advent Prayer of Blessing
United States Catholic Bishops' Conference

Lord our God,
we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Saviour of every nation.
Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise
to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Advent Films

Advent Word Series
Four short animations, with other resources, on the Advent themes of peace, hope, joy, love from the Bible Project.

These themes are traditionally associated with the weeks of Advent and the candles of the Advent wreath:
1st Week = Hope
2nd Week = Love
3rd Week = Joy (rose-coloured candle)
4th Week = Peace

Advent Word resources
Hope video (4m 33s)
Love video
(4m 48s)
Joy video (4m 31s)
Peace video (3m 48s)

Advent Reflection
A series of short video reflections and prayer for each week of Advent. Suitable for staff, prayer groups, upper primary and secondary age pupils.

Advent Week 1 - Hope (3m 44s)

Advent in 2 Minutes
A Busted Halo video
Advent in 2 Minutes (2m 10s)

He Came
A short reflection on the coming of Christ
He Came (1m 41s)

A short reflection on what Advent is about.
Advent (2m 13s)
Advent Conspiracy
A pacy film on doing something different for Christmas.
Advent Conspiracy (1m 37s)

Luke's Nativity Story
Animated film of Luke's account of the birth of Jesus from the Bible Project

Luke 1&2 (5m 05s)

Advent Images
Click on thumbnails to open higher resolution images

Advent Wreath with animated candles

Animated advent wreath - 0 candles lit
Animated advent wreath - 1 candle lit
Animated advent wreath - 2 candles lit
Animated advent wreath - 3 candles lit
Animated advent wreath - 4 candles lit

Image source unknown

Advent Wreath 1
Image source unknown

Advent Wreath 2
Image source unknown
Advent Wreath 3
Image source unknown
The Advent 'O' Antiphons
Image source unknown
Advent Texts

Advent Calendar
Rowan Williams

He will come like last leaf's fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud's folding.
He will come like the frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.
He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.
He will come, will come
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

An Advent Prayer
adapted from Advent Preface II

In praise and thanksgiving,
let us rejoice as we await our Saviour,
Christ the Lord,
Prince of peace.
For all the oracles of the prophets foretold him;
the Virgin Mary longed for him with love beyond all telling;
John the Baptist sang of his coming
and proclaimed his presence when he came.
It is by his gift that we already rejoice at the mystery of his nativity,
so that he may find us watchful in prayer
and exultant in his praise.

Christmas Eve
Christina Georgina Rossetti (1820-94)

Christmas hath darkness
Brighter than the blazing noon,
Christmas hath a chillness
Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas hath a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

Earth, strike up your music,
Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven hath answering music
For all Angels soon to sing:
Earth, put on your whitest
Bridal robe of spotless snow:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.


Thinking Faith for Advent
Articles from Thinking Faith, the online journal of the British Jesuits, about Advent.

Thinking Faith for Advent

The Great Contradiction of Advent
Hannah Rich, of the Theos thinktank, reflects on why Advent serves as a good reminder to take the busyness of a modern Christmas ‘one step at a time’.

The Great Contradiction of Advent


Advent Window Star
A simple activity to make a window star for school or home.

Advent window star (Rainy Day Mum)

Nativity Story Stones
A simple activity to retell the Christmas story.

Nativity story stones (Rainy Day Mum)

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