This last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent – the season leading up to the celebration of Christmas. And it’s always funny to me, because as my hair changes with the banners and the stoles, inevitably someone asks me – “Wait, shouldn’t it be purple for Advent?”
For a long time I was always surprised by this and would reply – “Of course not! Purple is for lent, Advent is blue!”
Well I finally decided to look into it, and much to my surprise the ELCA put out a great resource on liturgical colors, and they address this issue of blue versus purple at Advent, because you see, Advent for many other Christian traditions, has always been purple.
For many churches, Advent is purple to symbolize royalty (since this is the season of waiting, particularly for Christ the King to be born).
But now most of our Lutheran churches have blue for Advent, to symbolize hope at the coming of Christ. The reason?
Simple – purple was too expensive!
Apparently (or so the story goes), at some point the Lutheran churches in Scandinavia couldn’t afford the more expensive purple dye, and so rather than focusing on the symbolism of royalty, they changed the banners, paraments, and stoles to blue to symbolize hope (and save some krones).
Whatever the reason, I am excited for this new season, and am filled with hope for these comings weeks and we look towards the celebration of Christmas, and it doesn’t hurt that the frugality of some Scandinavian Lutherans may have led to me getting an extra color of hair for the liturgical calendar!