As many of you know, in México the main religion is Catholicism, and that is why many of our traditions come from this religion. The Mexican tradition of the Advent Crown is one of the most beautiful we celebrate.
Every year in every house, or I should say in every Catholic house in México, the Advent Crown (or wreath) tradition is celebrated. It begins four Sundays before Christmas Eve. In our country, families now are busy preparing for the birth of Jesus Christ, which of course is on the 25th of December.
In Europe long before the birth of Christianity, the crown was made with the branches of the perenne, or evergreen, tree and beautifully decorated with candles. The circle is a universal symbol related to the uninterrupted cycle of the seasons.
The Advent Crown is made of pine or fir tree and the branches are braided in a circle until they reach the desired size. Originally, the crown was decorated with four candles, three of them purple. The three purple candles mean that it is a time of penance. The pink color of the fourth candle represents the third Sunday of Advent, called Gaudete Sunday, or Sunday of Joy.
The crown symbolizes the course of the four weeks of Advent. Some Advent wreaths include a fifth candle, called ¨candle of Christ,” which is lit at Christmas. This white candle represents the end of the waiting for Jesus’ birth. The crown is normally placed on the living room table.
Every Sunday of each week, one candle is lit. The first candle is lit on the first Sunday of the four weeks of Advent. The families get together for prayers, the litanies and the songs. They light the candle and read the Bible and the kids and the adults sing songs and recite the litanies. When the ritual is finished they extinguish the candle. They do the same each of the following Sundays, lighting each of the remaining candles.
The fourth candle, the pink one, represents the birth of Jesus Christ and it, along with the fifth white candle, are lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent. The final lighting means the birth of Jesus Christ and the culmination of the observance of Advent.
On Christmas Eve, families read Bible scriptures related to the birth of Christ and sing traditional songs. The baby Jesus is placed in a scarf, and two members of the family lull the baby Jesus with a traditional song that is typically sung by mothers to their babies. The baby Jesus is placed in a little tray with candy, and the children acknowledge the baby Jesus with a kiss and take a candy.
Some families have a posada, which is a traditional party held a week before Christmas, to celebrate the birth of Christ. The family carries the baby Jesus and walks around the house singing the traditional song: “A la rrorro niño a la rrorro ya, duérmete bien mío, duérmeteme ya,” which is the most popular lullaby in Mexico.
When the kids and the family are finished with the candies and songs they leave the candles lit. The family then has a traditional Christmas dinner and after the party, the candles are consumed one by one. Nowadays, we can buy the crown decorated with pinecones, ribbon, and other decorations.
We hope you enjoyed the story of the Advent Crown and wish you Feliz Navidad!