I copy this little ditty from a Lutheran website:
Lutheran Advent TraditionsOne widespread tradition is the use of an Advent wreath both in the church and the home to mark each Sunday in the Advent season. While the origin of this as an Advent tradition dates back to the Lutheran church following the Reformation, the current form commonly used today was developed more recently and is used in many other Christian churches throughout the world. The wreath is made out of evergreens in the shape of a circle to represent eternal life. It consisted of four candles originally; three purple or blue candles to match the liturgical colors and one pink candle lit on the 3rd Sunday in Advent. This 3rd Sunday is known as Gaudete Sunday, meaning “rejoice” in Latin and comes from Philippians 4:4. Lighting this 3rd candle, Christians relax the fast to rejoice for the promised Messiah is coming soon. Many Advent wreaths also have a 5th candle, the Christ candle, which is lit during the time of Christmas, symbolizing that Christ, the light of the world, has entered the darkness.
So now I discover that my pre-Vatican II parish in Augusta where I grew up was way ahead of its time ecumenically as were the two pre-Vatican II Catholic elementary schools I attended. Advent wreathes were set up in the sanctuary and in our classrooms as well as pagan Xmas trees at Christmas.
And many of you will pass out over this. When I was at our Cathedral as the MC and then as pastor at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta and also my first couple of years at St. Joseph in Macon, we would place a huge, and I mean huge, Advent wreath on the old high altar but hanging as a Xmas wreath would, not flat but upright. Then we would use four of the six huge candlesticks on either side with the proper color candles. What about that???????
In my pre-Vatican II parish, our pastor would put up two evergreen trees that looked like Christmas trees at Christmas but not decorated in any way. Poinsettias of course were used.
Was there a prohibition prior to Vatican II to use decorated trees and use lights, white or colored? I can't think of the name of these now, but in my parish in Augusta, we would decorate a very large tree with homemade religious ornament symbols. I think this is Protestant too? We also used white lights! What that too secular?????
These are some Xmas decorations at St. Joseph Church in Macon when I was there. Were we too pagan and department-store like, thus having dialogue with the secular side of Xmas?
And what about the fifth "Christ" candle for the advent wreath that is used at Christmas? Is this kosher in Catholic churches?
As though there isn't enough Advent and Christmas anxiety, this all adds to my ever increasing inability to cope with all this anxiety in an ecumenical, interfaith and pagan world. Because, after all, the fundamentalists tell us that all things Catholic are Pagan, like Halloween, Christmas and Easter!