Even though the colors might throw you off, do not associate the horizontal wreath with three purple candles and one pink candle with Lent and Easter. Nope. That’s an Advent wreath and the candles are lit the Sundays prior to Christmas.

In essence, Advent is to Christmas as Lent is to Easter — both are preparatory periods of prayer and penance leading up to major events in Christianity.

In many Western churches, violet is the traditional color of penitential seasons and both Advent and Lent involve penance. Three of the four candles on an Advent wreath are violet and a rose candle is lit the third Sunday of Advent, as a pause to rejoice. A white candle is often placed in the center of the wreath, sometimes called the "Christ candle,” and is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas.

Many Protestant churches use four red candles and Anglican and Lutheran churches frequently use blue candles — a symbol of hope and waiting.

So the Advent wreath can stay packed in the box of Christmas decorations.