Colors and Meanings of Lent Candles

Updated January 16, 2020
Lent Candles

There are several Christian practices of the colors and meanings for using Lent candles. You can use these three candle colors similar to an Advent wreath, but used in a holder the form of a cross.

Lent Candle Colors and Meanings

The candle color combinations used for Lent often depend on individual practices. Some use only two colors (purple and rose) while others use three colors (purple, red or rose/white). Each color has a religious meaning.


The liturgical color for Lent season is purple. It is the symbol for penance. It also represents the preparation followers practice during Lent season and the sacrifice of the Christ.


Rose is the symbol of anticipation of the rejoicing to follow when the Christ is resurrected from the dead on Easter Sunday. The rose candle is traditionally lit on the fourth Sunday of Lent- Laetare Sunday. Laetare is Latin and means to rejoice.


The symbol for passion, blood, and fire, red is assigned to Palm Sunday (Sunday before Easter), Good Friday (Friday before Easter Sunday), and Christ's passion. It also represents the Holy Spirit.


The symbol of purity, light, joy and glory, white is also a symbol of the Resurrection of Christ from the dead.

How Lent Candle Are Used

There are two ways that candles are used during Lent. Each use a holder capable of supporting six to seven candles.

Lenten Cross

Some people place five purple candles in taper holders that are part of a Lenten wooden cross. A rose-colored candle is placed in the center of the cross to represent the Christ. Occasionally, a white candle is used instead.

Lenten Cross

Religious Significance

According to Lacy at Catholic Icing, a Lenten cross is to Lent what an Advent wreath is to Advent. The two have very similar Christian significance or in the case of the Lenten cross, Catholic significance.

  • There are six taper candles - one for every Sunday before Easter, five purple and one rose.
  • The candles for Lent are placed in a cross form, whereas the Advent candles are placed within a table wreath.
  • Lacy states it's tradition to make the Lenten cross from your Christmas tree in what she calls Lincoln Log style.

Order of Lighting Candles

Taper candles are placed in the candle holder with the rose candle placed in the center of the cross.

  • On the first Sunday of Lent, one candle is lit (top of cross) and extinguished after devotional.
  • The following Sunday, a new purple candle is lit (one on end of T) along with the first one and both are allowed to burn until extinguished.
  • The third Sunday, another new candle (other end of T) is lit along with the previous two and so on.
  • On the fourth Sunday (Laetare Sunday), the rose candle (center of the cross) is lit along with the other three.
  • You will continue this succession until Palm Sunday, when the last candle is lit and all candles with it.
  • Some people prefer to light a red candle on Palm Sunday, the last Sunday before Easter Sunday along with all of the candles.

Lenten Triad

Those using a Lenten triad also use six candles. A foam or wood triangle shape is covered with a black cloth.

  • The triad is a symbol of the Holy Trinty - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • The black cloth is a symbol of grief.
  • Two candles are placed in holders on each side of the triangle.
  • A rose candle is placed in the fourth holder.

Lent Wreath for Candles

A Lent candle wreath is one way to celebrate Lent instead of using the popular Lenten Cross. There aren't many choices for this type of candle display. Most people opt to make their own candle wreath for Lent.

Purpose of Lent Wreath

The purpose of the wreath is to light a candle for each of the Sundays of Lent leading up to Easter Sunday in the same way as the Lenten Cross. Instead, a wreath is chosen.

Ideas for DIY Lent Wreath for Candles

Most Lent candles are used in some form of Lenten Cross to represent the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, many people enjoy using a wreath for their candle display. Finding a Lent wreath for candles is nearly impossible, so most people commadeer their Advent wreaths and transform then for the Lent season.

Transform an Advent Wreath into a Lent Wreath for Candles

Grace United Methodist Church in Kokomo, Indiana shares how they transformed an advent wreath into a Lent wreath by adding two more candle holders and replacing the holiday greenery with thorn branches.

Cross Shaped Lent Wreath

You can purchase a cross-shaped wreath and place individual candle holders within the wreath to create your own version of Lenten cross wreath. This wreath is available on Amazon for around $25 with free shipping for Prime membership or orders over $25.

Crown of Thorns Lent Wreath for Candles

You may wish to purchase a Crown of Thorns wreath and add individual candle holders and Lent candles to create a Lent wreath. This wreath is 7" in diameter and sells around $42.

Crown of Thorns from The Holy Land

Grapevine Lent Wreath with Easter Lilies

Another option is to transform a grapevine wreath into your Lent wreath for candles. You may decide to dress up your wreath for Lent by adding a few silk Easter lilies.

How to Use Your Lent Wreath for Candles

You can decide how to use your Lent wreath by choosing the quantity of colored candles. You'll also need to decide what colors you want for your candles.

  • You can use five purple candles and one white.
  • You can use five purple candles and one pink/rose candle.
  • You will set five purple candles around the wreath circle.

Order of Lighting Purple and White or Rose Lent Candles

When you use five purple candles in your Lent wreath, you will need to selecta candle for the center of your wreath to represent Jesus Christ. This can be either a white or pink/rose candle.

  1. Place the white or rose candle it in the center of the wreath circle. This candle represents Christ risen from the dead. It will be lit on Easter Sunday.
  2. The first Sunday of Lent, you will light one purple candle.
  3. You will continue to light each purple candles until Easter Sunday when you will light all six candles, lighting the candle in the center last.

Three Purple, One Pink, One Red, and One White Candles

You may prefer to use three purple candles, one pink, one red, and one white candle in your wreath. Each Sunday you will add one more candle to the order you light. You'll always start with the first candle you lit and proceed to the next one according to which sunday you are lighting the candles. You will light them in the following order:

  1. First Sunday: Light the purple candle farthest from the pink/rose candle
  2. Second Sunday: Light the first purple candle and the purple candle beside it.
  3. Third Sunday: Light the first, second and third purple candles.
  4. Fourth Sunday: Light the purple candles and the pink/rose candle.
  5. Fifth Sunday(Palm Sunday): Light the purple, pink/rose and red candles.
  6. Easter Sunday: Light the purple, pink/rose, red candles and the center white candle.

Lenten Candle Readings

During the lighting of your Lenten cross or triad, you may wish to include an appropriate Bible reading for a devotional.

Philippians 3:10-11

You may find Philippians 3:10-11? "I want to know Christ-yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings..."

Psalm 95

You may prefer reading Psalm 95, "Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation?"

Making Lent Candle Lighting a Family Tradition

If your family doesn't have a Lenten candle lighting ritual, you can decide from these two forms which you wish to follow. Establishing a religious tradition is a great way to reinforce and build your faith and strengthen your family unit in Christ.

Colors and Meanings of Lent Candles