Christmas Eve: What is the Christ Candle?
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On the four Sundays of Advent, you’ll see the Advent wreath at the Anglican Church. Around it will be four candles, three purple and one pink. And in its center is a large white candle. That’s the Christ Candle.
Each Sunday of Advent a new candle is lighted to mark time. The third candle is rose or pink, which is meant to remind us to rejoice.
On the fourth Sunday of Advent, all four candles are lighted. Then, on Christmas Eve the Christ candle is lighted along with all four Advent candles.
The Christ Candle represents the light that the Son brought into the world when he was born a little baby, God in the flesh. The fact that the Advent candles remain on Christmas Eve puts the focus on this special moment of birth, the moment of transition from prophecy to fulfillment.
On Christmas Day and the Christmas Sundays, the Advent candles are usually removed, but the Christ Candle remains. This reminds us that old things have passed away, and all has been made new.
There is always at least one Sunday after Christmas, often there are two. It depends on which day of the week Christmas falls on (long boring story). The Epiphany follows on January 6th. Many churches burn the Christ candle through Epiphany, the Feast of Light on January 6th, and through the following Sunday, the first after the Epiphany. This is especially appropriate because it reminds us of the star that the Wise Men followed.
The Christ Candle fills a similar function as the Pascal Candle at Easter. It represents the work of Christ to us, our light in the darkness though his birth, life, death, and resurrection.
You can practice this tradition at home with your family. In our family, we light the advent candles each week, and on Christmas Eve we light the Christ Candle and pray the Christmas Eve prayers. Then we light the Christ candle each night during the Twelve Days of Christmas.
May the light of the Christ Child fill you with joy and peace!
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