Q: It just dawned on me that you are probably not supposed to light the Advent wreath when it is no longer advent? I see other churches just light them all again at Christmas… I’ve always done that, too. Is that correct?
Do you take out the 3 violet candles and pink and just light the white one candle in the middle? I can’t really find any guidelines. I’m guessing it isn’t a big deal but just was curious.
A: As you suspect, there is no rule on this. The custom in Catholic churches is usually to put the wreath away when Christmas decorations go up. But some other denominations light a white Christ candle in the middle of the wreath.
The Vatican’s Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy states that the wreath is an Advent symbol focusing on the prophecies of Christ’s coming. The implication is that it comes down for Christmas. But there is no clear rule.
The Advent Wreath
98. Placing four candles on green fronds has become a symbol of Advent in many Christian home, especially in the Germanic countries and in North America.
The Advent wreath, with the progressive lighting of its four candles, Sunday after Sunday, until the Solemnity of Christmas, is a recollection of the various stages of salvation history prior to Christ’s coming and a symbol of the prophetic light gradually illuminating the long night prior to the rising of the Sun of justice (cf. Ml 3,20; Lk 1,78).