St Margaret’s & District
The History of the Christmas Wreath
I expect a lot of us, when asked
‘from where did the first Christmas Tree come?’ would know the most popular
answer is – it was introduced by Prince Albert in the mid 19th century. It is a regular pub quiz question. But how many of us know much about the
traditional Christmas Wreath.
The origin of the wreath dates back to the times of the
Persian Empire. The word wreath is taken
from the old English word ‘writhen’ meaning to twist. Wreaths were believed to be a symbol of
importance and wealth, they were much smaller than those we see today and were
known as ‘diadems’.
To begin with they were used almost as a fashion statement,
being worn as headbands and often adorned with jewels. Somewhere around 776 BC the Greeks started to
place wreaths made of laurel on the heads of the athletes who came first in the
Olympic Games. It is thought likely that
these precious items were hung on the wall after they had been worn. Likewise those given at weddings and other
special occasions. The wreath
represented honour and joy. Very soon
important military and political leaders of the Roman Empire started wearing
wreaths. One example being that of
Julius Ceasar who wore one much like a crown.
The transition of the wreath from a headgear to a wall/door
decoration is not known with much accuracy.
It is thought that they were used as Christmas Tree decorations, their
circular shape made them easy to hang on the branches of trees. The shape was also thought to represent
divine perfection, symbolizing eternity , as the shape has no end. Here we mainly associate the wreath with
Christmas but that doesn’t mean you have to stick with tradition. You can buy wreaths made of colourful
Christmas baubles or adorned with berries and fruits. To make your own you can buy circular
bases, already incorporating oasis or make your own base using twisted
branches and moss formed into a circle with wire. Then fill the circle with whatever foliage
you have available, cut into short pieces and pushed into the oasis or the
moss, secured with wire wrapped around the base as you go. To finish you can add baubles, pine cones,
orange segments and selections of berries.
Finish off with a cheerful bow at the base. To keep your greenery looking fresh, spritz
daily with water.
There is another wreath used widely at Christmas – the Advent
Wreath. During the Middle Ages the
Christians adapted a tradition that had been used by both Germanic and
Scandinavian peoples during the winter months.
The symbolism of the Advent wreath is very strong. The wreath is made up entirely of various
evergreens, signifying continuous life.
Even though these evergreens have traditional meanings, laurel signifies
victory over persecution and suffering; pine, holly and yew, immortality and
Holly to remind us of the Crown of Thorns.
Four candles represent the four weeks of Advent, three candles are
purple representing the Christian values
of hope, peace and love and one is rose or red symbolizing the joy of new life
gained through the gift of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Sometimes a white candle is lit on Christmas
Eve to welcome Jesus’s birth.
we take this opportunity to wish all our members and supporters the very best
for Christmas and the New Year 2021