The Belvoir community joined in the Religious Education Center for the Advent Wreath Workshop Sunday.

Families and friends decorated wreaths with candles, bells and ribbons and celebrated the beginning of Advent.

According to information distributed by the Religious Education Center, the Advent wreath's origins trace back to folk practices of pre-Christian Germanic people, who "gathered wreaths of evergreen and lit fires as signs of hope in a coming spring and renewed light."

The tradition spread through Germany and eventually throughout the world as a means to celebrate Christians' Advent hope in Jesus Christ.

Sister Michael Bochnowski, garrison director of religious education, said Belvoir's annual workshop helps Families focus on the religious aspects of Christmas and not just the commercial portion.

"It takes us to the spiritual and away from the material," Bochnowski said.

The wreaths can be made in a variety of ways but there are a few important physical characteristics that must remain consistent.

Using green symbolizes the new life brought to Christians by the birth of Jesus.

The wreath must also be circular as a reminder of eternity.

Bochnowski explained these characteristics symbolize the ongoing of Christ.

The wreaths, which are traditionally placed on dinner tables, should also have four candles.

The candles are lit each day until Dec. 25, with an optional accompanied prayer.

Lighting the candles prepares a family for Christmas, especially for children who can use the routine to fully experience the spiritual side of the holiday season.

Bochnowski estimated Belvoir started the tradition approximately 15 years ago.

Families typically bring their own decorations and as Bochnowski likes to say "the chapel provides the wreath, the prayers and the pizza."

The youth are always a large part of the event as children help their parents by placing candles and other decorations on the wreaths.

Bochnowski said the workshop, which consistently brings numerous Families to the center, encourages community bonding and getting people into the Christmas spirit.