We typically think of Christmas colors as green and red, or (as the snowman in Rudolph liked to sing) silver and gold. But did you know that pink and purple are part of the tradition as well?
In fact, if you were to walk into a Catholic Church this coming Sunday, you might notice the priest himself wearing pink. Of course, as the priests at St. Mary’s here in New Haven like to remind us, “It’s NOT pink. It’s ROSE.” And I can imagine Knights of Columbus founder Father McGivney might have said the same thing to his parishioners as they prepared to celebrate Christmas more than 100 years ago in the very same church.
On the Third Sunday of Advent — or Gaudete Sunday — priests may wear the rose-pink color vestments to indicate the great joy that Jesus brought into the world on the very first Christmas. The brightness of the pink color reminds us that we’re halfway through Advent and very near to our celebrations.
The message of joy is also seen in the Advent Wreath, whose one pink candle will be lit on this Sunday. Originating in Lutheran traditions in the 16th century and gradually spreading to other Christian denominations, today’s Advent wreaths typically contain four candles: three purple and one rose, each corresponding to one of the four Sundays of Advent. Each week, a new candle is lit, serving as a sort of calendar to mark the weeks until Christmas. In some churches, you might see a fifth candle — the Christmas candle — placed in the center of the wreath. This is lit on Christmas day, announcing with its bright flame that the light of Christ has come upon the earth.
Gaudete Sunday gets its name from a psalm said or sung during the Sunday liturgy. In Latin, the very first word of the psalm is gaudete, which means “to rejoice.” An English translation of the psalm is below:
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.
Let your forbearance be known to all,
for the Lord is near at hand;
have no anxiety about anything, but in all things,
by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,
let your requests be known to God."
So this Sunday, when you look at that pink candle or those rose-colored vestments, remember the beautiful traditions that are shared among Christians even to this day and rejoice that we can together share in the blessings of the year. And, with apologies to the priests at St. Mary’s, I will end with a phrase I used to say when I was kid: “Happy Pink Sunday!”
Knights worldwide are called to promote the true spirit of Christmas in their homes, schools, parishes and communities as part of the Keep Christ In Christmas program. This program is just one of the recommended programs in the new Faith In Action program model. Learn more about Faith In Action and once you do that, join the Knights today.
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