You know the countdown to Christmas has really begun when York Minster raises its advent wreath – and as these stunning photos show, this year all involved have surpassed themselves.
Using evergreen leaves and foliage collected from homes and farms around the city a team of flower arrangers have created one of the largest suspended advent wreaths in the world.
Here are some stats to make even the most green-fingered among us wilt…
The wreath is four metres wide
It features five candles, each one metre high
The foliage is arranged in 12 metres of oasis blocks
The channelled metal ring contains gallons of water
Drip trays the size of kitchen woks are needed to catch the melted candle wax.
Click to see a bigger image
“We’ve had plenty of practice in assembling and installing the metal ring, and have a superb dedicated team of flower arrangers, led by our head flower arranger, Beryl Plimmer,” said head verger Alex Carberry.
“With so many people working on it, it takes little over an hour to go from a bare ring to its vibrant best.”
Lighting the way
Children from the Minster School’s Pre-Prep department helped Mr Carberry lift four huge white candles into place around the ring, before Mr Carberry puts the final, central candle in place.
Each will burn continuously for three weeks. The first candle was lit on Sunday (November 30), and the first two will burn down completely and be replaced before the final candle is lit on Christmas Day.
They will stay alight until Epiphany on January 6.
“Each candle on the wreath represents a different aspect of the world’s preparations for the coming of Christ,” says the Reverend Canon Dr Christopher Collingwood, chancellor of York Minster.
The outer candles represent the forerunners of Jesus: the Patriarchs, the Prophets, John the Baptist and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In the centre of the wreath, the fifth candle represents the light of Christ coming into the world, and it will be lit during the 10am Eucharist service on Christmas Day.
Raising the wreath marks the start of the Minster’s busiest season of concerts, events and services. To see what’s going on, go to the York Minster page of our What’s On guide.