Why Are the Advent Candle Colors Purple, Pink, and White?

These three central colors of Advent are endowed with profound meaning. Improve your understanding and gratitude of the Advent season by knowing what each color signifies and why it is used on the Advent wreath.

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The Three Colors of Advent Candles

The meaning of the season of Advent is to ready one's heart for the arrival of Christ at Christmas. Through the four weeks of Advent, Christians use a wreath decorated with five candles to symbolize several sacred phases of preparation. The three Advent candle colors, purple, pink, and white, are representative of the faithful anticipation that believers partake to ready their hearts and minds for the birth or second coming of Jesus Christ. 

"But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days."  ~ Micah 5:2

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." ~ Isaiah 9:6

These three central colors of Advent are endowed with profound meaning. Improve your understanding and gratitude of the Advent season by knowing what each color signifies and why it is used on the Advent wreath.

Purple Advent Candle

Purple has traditionally been the central color of Advent. This color signifies repentance and fasting. The Christian custom of withholding oneself food or some other desire is a practice wherein Christians demonstrate their devotion to God and sanctify their heart and body. Purple is also the liturgical color for Lent, which likewise incorporates a time of contemplation, repentance, and spiritual preparation.

Purple is also the color of nobility and the supremacy of Christ, who is recognized as the "King of Kings." So, purple in this use illustrates the expectation of and welcoming of our King celebrated during Advent. The following candles of the Advent wreath are traditionally purple:

The first Advent candle, known as the prophecy candle, or candle of hope.

The second Advent candle called the Bethlehem candle or the candle of peace.

The fourth Advent candle called the angel candle or the candle of love.

Pink Advent Candle

Pink is the color of Advent used during the third Sunday of Advent. Pink represents joy or triumph and this candle exhibits a transition in the season of Advent away from repentance and to a celebration.

The third Advent candle color is pink, called the shepherd candle or candle of joy.

White Advent Candle

White is the Advent candle color symbolizing purity, light, restoration, and holiness. White is also a representation of victory.

The Christ candle is the fifth Advent candle, placed in the center of the wreath as a white candle.

Jesus Christ is the righteous, immaculate, pure Savior. He is the light come into a dark and depraved world. He is often described in the Bible wearing bright, profoundly white robes, like snow, and shining with the brightest of light. Daniel 7:9 is such an account:

"As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire." (Daniel 7:9, ESV).

Furthermore, those who accept Jesus Christ as Savior are cleansed of their sins and made whiter than snow.

Observing the traditions and meaning of Advent holds the importance of Christ's birth and salvation in our hearts and minds despite the commercialization of the modern Christmas season. As Learn Religions says, "Spiritually preparing one's heart by focusing on the colors of Advent in the weeks leading up to Christmas is a great way for Christian families to keep Christ the center of Christmas, and for parents to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas."

Image Credit: SparrowStock

This article is part of our larger Advent resource library centered around the events leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ. We hope these articles help you understand the meaning and story behind important Christian holidays and dates and encourage you as you take time to reflect on all that God has done for us through his Son Jesus Christ!

What Is Advent: Definition & Meaning Behind Christmas Tradition
What Is an Advent Wreath?
Advent Week 1: The Candle of Hope
Advent Week 2: The Candle of Peace
Advent Week 3: The Candle of Joy
Advent Week 4: The Candle of Love

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