A traditional wreath has spaces for five Advent candles: three purple for Week 1, 2 and 3; a pink candle for Week 4; and a white candle for Christmas Day. (For safety, we use battery-operated candles.) Candles of all one color also are appropriate.
We light one candle per week for four Sundays, beginning with the fourth Sunday before Christmas (Dec. 1, 2013). The fifth is lighted Christmas Day. We read a corresponding Bible passage while lighting each week’s candle.
This is the primary liturgical color most traditional Western churches use. Purple symbolizes penitence. This helps observers recall that the world is unworthy of its coming Messiah. Purple also is a royal color, which is appropriate because Advent harkens the coming of the king.
Pink/Rose A symbol of joy
Royal Blue In Protestant churches, it is used to distinguish from the Catholic traditions. It symbolizes royalty.
Bright Blue A symbol of the water of a new creation (Genesis 1); the night sky—anticipation
Blue-Violet A distinction from the purple/red violet used during Lent
Red and Green Secular colors of Christmas, derived from European use of evergreen trees and holly to symbolize the ongoing life and hope that Christ’s birth brought the world. These are not liturgical colors, because red and green have other symbolic meaning in the church year.