Most families light the Advent wreath before dinner and leave it burning throughout dinner. You can also light it before private or family prayer, or before engaging in an Advent devotion such as the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena or the daily Scripture Readings for Advent. (Dinnertime is a perfect time to incorporate one or both of those devotions into your Advent practices.)
The advent candles have a great history within the church history. They are in integral part of the advent wreath and to focus on the season of Advent itself. The use of the Advent candle reaches back to the 8th century. The origins of the advent wreath and in kind the advent wreath are sketchy although many agree that there was the use of a wreath in German and the wheel of candles of the Scandinavian countries that used the advent candle to light the long nights.
The advent candles and the advent wreath are ways to mark the special time of the year known as advent. The candles have much significance because they are used to mark the four weeks of advent. Symbolically the diminishment of the candles shows the passing of time though the advent season. Week one by the end of advent is usually very short and needs a replacement advent candle. The candles also provide light, just as Christ is the light of the world. In the 8th century these candles were used to light the long nights of Winter.
Additionally there great symbolic nature of the candle light. By moving though the period of advent, the light of one candle does give off very small amount of light. Though the second week when the second candle is lit it reveals a little more because the two candles provide more light. As we move to the third week and the joy the light of the three candles give off we become more away of the warm light of Christ. Just like we are happy over the warm light our candles give off lighting the long winter nights.