The History of the Christmas Wreath
Wreaths have been used symbolically for centuries. The term "wreath" (derived from the Middle English phrase "wrethe") is defined as a twisted ring of garland comprised of leaves or flowers. This ring or "circle" that contains no beginning or end represents eternal life. Using plants in this way pays homage to life overcoming the harshness of winter's force. Usually, because of their resilient nature, evergreens are used as the basis for a wreath trimmed with holly berries, candles and forced flower blooms...
Back in ancient Rome, people used decorative wreaths as a sign of victory and not just for holiday or festival celebrations. Historians believe this practice was adopted by Christians and included in the yearly Christmas traditions to symbolize the resurrection of Christ and life ever lasting. The bright green of an evergreen wreath displayed on front doors and throughout homes, hospitals and businesses is a pleasant sight for all to behold during the holiday season.
The ancient Druids wore sprigs of holly and mistletoe in the belief that they contained magical properties. Holly, in particular, was considered sacred for its enduring evergreen powers against the cold of winter. For this reason, it was considered sacred. Historians believe holly became the "red" of the popular combination of red and green Christmas colors. Holly and Christmas Wreaths came to stand for peace, joy, and contentment.
Mistletoe, on the other hand, was condemned by a German Catholic Bishop. He said it was "dangerous and heathen" and forbade its use in Christmas wreaths. This view lasted for centuries within the church community.
The colonists brought the tradition of the Christmas wreath to the New World. To add color and meaning, they decorated their wreaths with colorful fruits, seashells from nearby beaches, pinecones from the forests and any item that was available to them. At the end of their 12 day Christmas celebration that ended on January 5th, wreaths were removed and all fruit and usable items were added to the holiday feast.
Today, most feel that no home is completely decorated without an evergreen wreath hanging on the front door. It is a symbol of belief and the Christmas spirit.
"May life always gift you with a wreath for the door at Christmas."