I grew up in a Filipino catholic family were every month of December we light our own Advent wreath, catholic families usually light the advent wreath for preparing for the coming of our savoir Jesus Christ.
The Advent wreath has four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. A tradition is that each week represents one thousand years, to sum to the 4,000 years from Adam and Eve until the Birth of the Savior. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead.
In family practice, the Advent wreath is most appropriately lit at dinner time after the blessing of the food. A traditional prayer service using the Advent wreath proceeds as follows: On the First Sunday of Advent, the father of the family blesses the wreath, the youngest child then lights one purple candle. During the second week of Advent the oldest child lights the purple candle from the first week plus one more purple candle. On the third week of Advent the mother lights the two previously lit purple candles plus the rose candle. The father prays during the fourth week of Advent, the father lights all of the candles of the wreath.
The light again signifies Christ, the Light of the world. Some modern day adaption’s include a white candle placed in the middle of the wreath, which represents Christ and is lit on Christmas Eve. Another tradition is to replace the three purple and one rose candles with four white candles, which will be lit throughout Christmas season.
But the traditions of Egyptians, most Egyptian Christians belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church and they have some very unique traditions for Christmas. For the 40 days before Christmas Coptic Orthodox Christians fast (don’t eat any meat products except for fish). This is called ‘The Holy Nativity Fast’. The Coptic month leading to Christmas is called Kiahk. People sing special praise songs on Saturday nights before the Sunday Service.
We celebrate our Christmas on the 25th of the December while in Egypt they celebrate it on the 7th of the January, even though not many in Egypt are Christians, a lot of people in the country like to celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday. Christmas is becoming very commercial and most major supermarkets sell Christmas trees, Christmas food and decorations. Hotels, parks and streets are decorated for Christmas.
We all have our own special way to prepare for the Christmas Season and we all have the right to practice what are the customs and tradition in every way we all must be prepared and thankful for the blessing and challenges that we encounter. Those traditions are like reminders to us to not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas.