As a special Advent tradtion, Germans will light the first candle of
the Advent wreath the fourth Sunday before Christmas, which is Nov. 27.
The history of the Advent wreath goes back to northern Germany in 1839,
when Johann Hinrich Wichern, the founder of a juvenile home, created
the first wreath made of wood and decorated with 24 candles – four big
white ones for Sundays and little red ones to be lit on weekdays.
Actually, the Advent wreath is the revival of an old winter custom in
Pagan times when wreaths of fir branches and straw used to be a symbol
for luck. They were supposed to ban mischief from the following year’s
harvest. The “magic” wreath was decorated with gold and red ribbons,
because those two colors symbolized light and life. In the middle of
winter, when everything was leafless and desolate, the wreath was to
bring fresh and scented green into houses. At the beginning of the
century, the Advent wreath became a firm institution throughout Germany.