History of the Christmas Wreath
It's hard to miss a Christmas wreath hanging on someone's door as you walk past going about the day's business. You might have even seen a few snaps on Instagram of designs that caught the eye of the snapper. You might have even taken a few pictures yourself.
Yes, Christmas wreaths look pretty and all, but is there a story behind why it serves as a decoration on our front door or even above the fireplace? How did it all begin?
A brief history of wreaths
Wreaths have been used for many years, dating back to ancient times. Romans used bay laurel, broadleaf evergreen, or a cherry laurel as a symbol of victory and honour. Wreathes were presented to winners of athletic competitions and given to commanders of successful military missions.
Christmas wreaths were initially made from fresh evergreens, which remain green all throughout the year, making them the perfect candidate to use during the winter. Today, there are lots of artificial varieties that even come in different designs – you just need to take your pick or two.
The wreath in Christianity
The Christmas wreath is used to symbolize Christ. Since it's traditional shape is that of a circle, it signifies eternal life. It is often accompanied by four candles, three on the outside with one in the middle. On Christmas Eve, the candle in the middle is lit to symbolize the arrival of Jesus Christ.
In the 19th century, there was a tradition of laying down a wreath on crosses and graves to honour the dead. When the holidays came around, families would take the wreath to use as Christmas decoration.
Wreaths are also used to observe the Advent season. They are put up on the first Sunday of Advent, which is four Sundays before Christmas. This tradition goes back to the 16th century when a Lutheran priest called Johann Hinrich Wichern used one made from a cart wheel to teach the purpose and meaning of Christmas to children.
The Lutheran beginnings of the wreath soon spread to other Christian denominations, leading to unique variations. But despite the differences, all Advent wreaths feature four candles.
Christmas wreaths are used in many parts of the world, with retail stores coming up with increasingly unique designs each year. You can either buy an artificial one or go for a fresh one, which will be more expensive of course.
Christmas Wreath Buying Tips
1. Decide on where you want to put your wreath. Is it going to be displayed on the front door? Or are you going to hang it above the fireplace or somewhere inside your home?
2. Consider what kind of wreath you want. There's the fresh one, which brings a festive smell. Or you can also go for an artificial wreath that doesn't brown or dry at all.
3. Go for what you can afford. You don't need to empty your pockets just to get a wreath. You can get one for a modest price without sacrificing design. But do know that getting a fresh wreath means spending lots more money.
A Christmas wreath is one of the simplest decorations you can put up during the holidays. And you have the options of choosing a real one or an equally beautiful artificial variety for your home.