Advent wreath - Where does this tradition come from?
The most important things in brief
- The most homely and cuddly time of the year is upon us again.
- When it gets cold and dark outside, we just make the living room light and comfortable.
- The Advent wreath is definitely part of the pre-Christmas period, and there are different versions of it.
- But who originally had the idea for this wreath of candles?
The year is 1839. There is no acute famine in Central Europe, but every few years there are bad harvests. Wars were also not being waged on the continent at this time, and a few years have passed since the battles over the division of the cantons of Basel. But many people are poor or destitute, and it is the children who are hit the hardest, as is so often the case. In northern Germany, a Protestant theologian looks after the offspring from the poorest families.
Like the advent calendar, the wreath shortens the waiting time for the party
Many mothers and fathers barely manage to feed their children, let alone educate them. In Hamburg, the theologian and social worker Johann Hinrich Wichern has a heart for the poorest in society - and in 1833 he founded the "Rauhe Haus", a foundation that was originally intended for children with criminal or behavioral problems.
But after a few years, the Rauhe Haus also took in neglected children, and as early as 1835 Wichern set up a girls' institution. Because not only school but also religious education plays an important role in the facility, director Wichern came up with something special in 1839. He invents the Advent wreath.
The advent wreath is also used for learning
The world's first Advent wreath was probably also the largest. Wichern decorates a wagon wheel with candles, four of which are white and large - these are only lit on Sundays - and the rest small and red. The number of red lights changes from year to year because the length of Advent is always different - which is still the case today.
And in 1839, Wichern was not yet enthusiastic about decorative accessories either; it was not until 1860 that people also adorned their wreaths with fir green. The Wichernkranz, as the original form is called, has a mathematical-educational function: the number of candles in the Advent wreath indicated the number of days until Christmas. This is how the children should learn to count. And besides, the long wait until the festival became a little more bearable.
More light and a symbol of infinity
Whether it was Wichern's intention right from the start to use the wagon wheel to design a circular symbol for the infinity of God (no beginning, no end) as an Advent wreath remains to be seen. A wonderful side aspect of the wreath, however, was that the room got a little brighter every day, since another candle was lit every day, a large white candle every Sunday and a small red one every day of the week. Day by day more light flooded through the room.
Like the Advent calendar, the Advent wreath also has its origins in the middle of the 19th century - the wreath, however, is twelve years older. By the way, you can find a couple of nice advent calendars to give away or to use yourself here.
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