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Advent in Dubrovnik

The Advent season reminds many of us of our childhoods, representing not only sweet nostalgic memories, but also the expectant waiting for a new, better beginning.  Many Advent customs in Croatia are unique to the locations and times from which they originated, and also speak to traditional connections with European culture.

In anticipation of the upcoming holiday season in Dubrovnik, the small Onofrio fountain is traditionally decorated as the centrepiece of Advent in Dubrovnik.

On the 29th of November the first of the four advent candles will be lit. During the four Sundays of Advent it is the custom to light one candle on the Advent wreath every Sunday.

The symbolism of the Advent wreath – the clock that measures the time until Christmas

Advent is a period of the liturgical year marked by preparations for the celebration of Christmas. In Western Christian churches, Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas and ends on December 24, on Christmas Eve. According to custom, each candle symbolises a period of 1000 years (altogether 4000 years) which is the biblical time from the creation of Adam and Eve till the birth of Christ. The first candle is a candle of hope and expectation, the second - a candle of peace and reconciliation, the third - a candle of joy and merriment, and the fourth - a candle of love.

The symbolism of the Advent wreath is truly amazing. The circular wreath, which has no beginning and no end, and its green colour, symbolize the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul and a new, eternal life we are promised in Christ. The wreath itself can be made of various evergreens representing the continuous cycle of life. Laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering; pine, holly and yew immortality, and cedar, strength and healing.

As the saying goes: We should believe in the miraculous power of the Advent wreath as the magic of its sparkling candles will certainly warm our hearts throughout the entire year, and the "light of the world" will light up the right way and bring hope for new life.

So don’t forget to light up the first candle this Sunday and start counting the days left until Christmas time!

Origin of the Advent wreath
The first Advent wreath dates from 1838 and the poor children’s home “Rauhes Haus” (Beat Down House) in Hamburg where a young Evangelical pastor  Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808 – 1881) gathered orphans from the streets in 1883 and offered them a new home in an old and dilapidated house. Every year during the season of Advent he would organize prayer moments for the children in his charge. In 1838 he wrote in his journal that he wanted to find a way to make Advent nicer for them and decided to light a candle every day during prayers, starting from the first day of December. Around 1851 Wichern’s protégés started decorating the wooden cartwheel that held the candles with evergreen branches. Catholics around the world started forming Advent wreaths after World War I.