Thursday, December 2, 2010

The History of Christmas Wreaths

Is it just me or does Christmas seem to come earlier and earlier each year?  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complianing - I LOVE Christmas!  But, usually I am one of the first people to have my tree up and my house decorated for Christmas and this year I feel like I am totally behind and it isn't even the first weekend in December!  I will get my act together this weekend but in the meantime, I thought I'd share something I learned with you.

While driving to work today (and sitting in traffic!), I noticed all of the different types of holiday wreaths on all the doors (again, people who are ahead of me with their decorating).  I started wondering what was behind the meaning of putting Christmas wreaths on doors.  

With a little research, here is what I found out:

Traditional Christmas wreaths are a symbol of faith. Since wreaths are a circle with no beginning or end, they symbolize God's eternity and mercy during the Christmas season. When Christmas Wreaths are decorated with evergreen leaves and branches they symbolize everlasting life and God's everlasting love. Their green color is a representation of hope and new life.

The word wreath comes from the word writhen (Old English), meaning to writhe or to twist - hence why wreaths are typically made by twisting or bending evergreen branches into a circular shape. The ancient Greeks, and Romans, used evergreen leaves and garlands to make headdresses that were awarded as prizes to Olympic athletes, military heroes, and kings. Members of the aristocracy began adding jewels and precious metals to these headdresses, creating what became the Crown. The word crown comes from the word corona (Latin) which means wreath or garland.

Christianity associates wreaths with joy, triumph and honor. During the 15th century wreaths began to be used as hanging decorations. Evergreen plants, such as holly, ivy and pine, which stay green all year, have long been used to create holiday wreaths. Such greens as holly, ivy, and mistletoe have special meaning since they not only stay green, they bear fruit during the harsh winter months.

During the 19th century, it was customary for Americans to use greens and boughs for wreaths as memorials, honoring deceased loved ones at Christmas.  Later, the boughs would be removed from the cemeteries by  and brought home, where they continued to symbolize the season as holiday decor.

So, there you have it!  Things sure have evolved since then.  Wreaths now come in all shapes, sizes and materials!  They are all still so festive!

Info I found for this post can be found here.

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