Sunday, December 14, 2008

In The Pink

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent. It's the Sunday when we light the Pink Candle, the candle of Joy. But why is it pink when all the others are Purple or sometimes Blue?

The earliest Feast Day to be celebrated in the Christian Church was Easter. The season of Lent was viewed as a time of Preparation for this Feast. Every Sunday in Lent a candle would be lit as a symbol of the hope of Resurrection. Some churches would begin with seven lit candles and extinguish one each of the Sundays of Lent.

During Lent people were encouraged to fast and reflect on their own lives. The problem was that many people became more caught up in how bad they were rather than on focusing on how good God is. People began to wallow in their sins and misery and instead of Lent leading them closer to God it became a time of separation. To counter this, the Pope would hand out Pink Roses on the Third Sunday of Lent, a symbol of coming Joy and the goodness of God. (Some sources say that the roses are handed out on the Fourth Sunday which is Laetare Sunday in the Catholic Church, and is when the Pope used to hand out golden roses to Catholic Sovereigns. Whether the roses of the commoners were given the same sunday as the roses for the Sovereigns is a matter of debate.)

When the church began to celebrate the feast of Christmas, they wanted to have a time of preparation before it, and so Advent was instituted. They kept the candle lighting, and they wanted to also keep the hope of Joy with the roses, but of course before the age of cultivated flowers that was a challenge. And so the Rose Colored candle for Advent became the solution. The other candles were purple because that was the color of Penitence that was used during Lent. Some traditions now use Blue Candles instead of purple, to distinguish Advent from Lent.

1 comment:

Micki said...

Thanks for the education lesson. I think I had often wondered, and had never sought out the answer myself.