History of the Christmas Wreath

by CSweeney on August 7, 2014

in Christmas,christmas decoration,Tradition

traditional wreathI made my very first Christmas wreath one year without really even a plan or a thought. What I mean to say is that it was more of an afterthought than something I planned out. You see, we brought home the biggest and best Christmas tree on the farm lot we could find, and just like my husband said before we forked over the cash, it was way too tall for our living room. You can probably guess the rest…..we found ourselves with several inches of tree trunk as well as the accompanying branches laying on the back porch. The tree now fit in the house, but what to do with all this darned mess.

light bulb moment

The men (the huz and the 3 littles) were in the house working on getting the tree to stand up tall and straight, so I headed outside to clean up the mess. There were some really great looking branches, and I realized I could use those to decorate the rest of the house…..the mantle, the table, and the door! Thus, my first handmade wreath was born.

The Christmas wreath is one of the most popular decorations at Christmas. You’ll find them, of course, on people’s front doors as a sign of welcome, but also quite often used as a part of  an Advent celebration or even hanging from the lamp posts in the city.

But, the truth is there is quite a long history for the ol’ wreath. Pagan cultures would have a gathering of wreaths at winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, a day that represented death and rebirth to them. They celebrated the end of the ever-shortening days and welcomed the promise of spring, all with celebrations and wreaths. Some would even add candles, symbolic of the sun.

laurel wreathIn ancient times, wreaths were a symbol of success and importance, and were worn as headbands. Olympic athletes wore them as well as military leaders, signifying victory. In the Christian world, the circle shape with no beginning and no end are thought to mean everlasting life or eternal rebirth.  Even the accouterments added to the wreath have meaning. The holly berries represent immortality and the cedar strength. I don’t know about you, but I find all of this fascinating!

Of course, the common Christmas wreath in our modern day carries much more simplicity for us. Hung on the front door or in the window, it’s like saying “Come in, you are welcome here!” And, that is a beautiful thing.

Tomorrow we’ll go over some basic steps in creating your own wreath, and offer some tips on maintaining it.

Until then,

Cheryl

Photo courtesies:  wreath, light bulb, athlete

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