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Traditionally advent wreaths are circular, representing God's infinite love. They are usually made of evergreen leaves with four candles, that generally represent the four weeks of the Advent season. Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, every Sunday one more candle is lit. Sometimes the wreath has a fifth, white candle is in the center symbolizing the arrival of Christmastide, sometimes known as the "Christ candle."
DIY Advent Wreath
How to create an Advent wreath? Here's a beautiful design by Søstrene Grene:
The traditional German Tannenbaum has real burning candles.
The German Tannenbaum is usually put up and decorated on Christmas Eve, though some families opt to erect their tree during the Advent season. Traditionally, the Germans used the fir tree, but nowadays the spruce is widely used. Decorations may include tinsel, glass balls or straw ornaments and sweets. A star or an angel tops the Tannenbaum, and beneath the tree, a nativity scene might be set up and the presents next to it. Germans also usually continue to use real lit candles instead of electric lights on the tree.
The first known Christmas tree was set up in 1419 in Freiburg by the town bakers, who decorated the tree with fruits, nuts, and baked goods, which the children were allowed to remove and eat on New Year's Day. The town guilds and associations first brought evergreens inside their guild houses and decorated them with apples and sweets. Candles were eventually added to the decorations. Already since the Middle Ages, ordinary Germans had been bringing yew, juniper, mistletoe, holly, evergreen boughs - any plant that maintained its green color through the lifeless and dreary winter months - into their homes. Even in areas where forests were sparse, the tradition took hold; people in Northern Germany, for instance, used Christmas pyramids (Weihnachtspyramiden) in lieu of Christmas trees. The pyramid form was created using sticks that were then decorated with fir branches. By 1800, the custom of bringing a tree into the home was firmly established in many German-speaking regions and continued to spread throughout Europe, and eventually, around the world. The custom was brought to North America by German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania and Ohio in the 18th century.
The Tannenbaum is taken down on New Year's Day or on January 6, Three King's Day.