Our Church has four liturgical colours: white, red, green and purple. Purple is assigned to the two seasons of waiting and preparation in our calendar, Lent and Advent. Although both seasons of waiting, these two seasons have quite different characters, with Lent being more focused on penance and conversion. The Church describes Advent as a period for “devout and joyous expectation”.
Add to this the different climate we experience in Advent compared to other parts of the Church. A darker purple and the sight of evergreens in the church during Advent connects directly with people experiencing fading daylight and the cold weather that comes with winter. In Australia, however, we’re winding up for the hottest and longest days of the year.
Having the same shade of purple for both seasons can send mixed signals about what these seasons are about, perhaps suggesting that Advent as a penitential time like Lent. Many who prepare liturgy have looked at ways of allowing the Australian Church’s art and environment for Advent better reflect the cultural and climatic conditions in which our celebration is situated. We have decided to differentiate the shades of purple to give Advent its own character. The is a lighter, softer purple with a hint of blue, drawn from the purple blooms of the Jacaranda and Agapanthus that flower during this time of Spring into Summer here in Australia – the time for Advent. This then leaves the darker, heavier purple to be used for the penitential season of Lent.