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The Significance of the Christmas Wreath

A simple circle of greens hanging on a door or over a mantel is a common sight during the holidays and other times of the year. Wreaths have been around for centuries, but they haven’t always been used as home decor.

Crowning the Victor

Wreaths symbolized power and honor in many ancient cultures. Persian royalty donned jeweled diadems, Egyptians wore floral chaplets, Roman emperors sported laurel wreath headbands.

In fact, receiving a laurel wreath, or “corona,” was considered an honor. Roman generals, poets and winners of the ancient Olympic games often were presented wreaths to recognize their triumphs. Wreaths typically were worn around the head, neck or waist.

The materials from which the wreath was made were significant. Circlets made of laurel, for instance, represented victory over pain and suffering, while evergreens like pine symbolized eternal life, says Love to Know.

Christmas Wreath Symbolism

The range of the wreath’s symbolism made it popular with early Christians.

Wreaths form a circle, a shape with extensive cultural and religious meaning. 

A circle can be used to represent the cycle of the seasons and continuity. For this reason, wreaths often figured in pagan Yule festivals, a celebration held near the winter solstice to celebrate the return of the sun and the promise of spring and new life.

A circle is never-ending - eternal. The circle represents life, rejuvenation and renewal, notes the Almanac. Therefore, a wreath seemed a natural symbol to represent Christ’s promise of everlasting life.

Over time, Christians added adornments to the wreath like holly and berries to symbolize Christ’s crown of thorns and drops of blood, plus pine cones and seed pods to represent rebirth. 

The First Christmas Wreath

History generally credits the Germans with the custom of bringing an evergreen indoors to decorate during Christmas time. Often, a tree brought directly from the forest required trimming and shaping. Instead of tossing away trimmed branches or throwing them on the fire, people twisted them into Christmas wreaths to adorn their homes.

These days, Christmas wreaths may be decorated or unadorned, lighted or unlit, made of pine, holly, twigs, Christmas ornaments, ribbon, tinsel, flowers or other natural and artificial materials. People place wreaths on walls and windows, fireplace mantels and even the grilles of their cars.

An Advent wreath is a special tabletop wreath adorned with candles to mark the period preceding Christmas.

Front door wreaths provide a joyful welcome. A wreath is a beautiful reminder of faith, an elegant accent for celebrations.

Whatever style wreath you use and wherever you place it, a wreath is an enduring symbol of faith and joy.