Symbols of Christmas: The Wreath

A simple fir wreath

A wreath, by definition, is a ring made of flowers, leaves and sometimes fruits that can be used as an ornament, hanging on a wall or door, or resting on a table. A small wreath can be also worn on the head as a form of headdress.

Wreaths are usually made from evergreens as a symbol for the strength of life, with these plants overcoming even the harshest winters. Such wreaths often use Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) and can be categorized as laurel wreaths. Other components of a wreath can be pine, holly or yew, symbolizing immortality, and cedar, symbolizing strength and healing. The Greek god Apollo is often associated with wreaths, and was a god of life and health. This inspired the Greek to use the symbol as crowns of victory at the Pythian Games, a forerunner to today’s Olympic Games. The circularity of wreaths can be used to symbolize eternity or immortality.

In Northern Europe, wreaths made of branches of conifer trees (especially firs) are commonly used as a symbol of remembrance of the deceased. For that purpose, such wreaths are often left at graves at burial, or in cases of burial-at-sea, left to float at the sea.

A wreath made of mostly evergreen tree twigs, sometimes with pine cones and/or a bow made of red ribbon is a common Christmas decoration. Christian households and churches often use an advent wreath made with four (or five) candles in preparation for Christmas. It is used to hang on a door as a symbol for the never-ending love of God.

I’ve made and purchased many different types of wreaths over the years, including the one pictured above which I made of balsam fir branches and a simple red bow.  One of my favorite wreaths is one my daughter made for her Grandma while in elementary school.  It was made from a coat hanger (shaped into a circle) and then dozens and dozens of strips made from white plastic bags were painstakingly cut and tied on, one by one.  The finished product is a fluffy white wreath that my mother still hangs every year.

If you’re in the mood for a simple, inexpensive, but beautiful and meaningful craft, check out some of the ideas on this site.

(info source)


Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

3 thoughts on “Symbols of Christmas: The Wreath”

  1. Nancy, you read my mind. Just two days ago I was wondering about the meaning of the wreath as I looked at the one I have. Every wreath, and almost every tree around here is from fir balsam.

  2. Nancy, I guess those of us of a certain age know all these things and I always enjoy reading about them. While walking the dogs yesterday I was wondering if many people these days even know these things. So glad you wrote this lovely summary of information. Merry Christmas to you.

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