History of the Christmas Wreath
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By J. Cray
What is a Christmas Wreath? A wreath is a circular shaped ring that can be made from different types of things found in nature including leaves, twigs, evergreens, and an endless variety of colorful flowers. It represents eternal life and as well as the maintenance of earthly life.
There are a few rather interesting origins of the Christmas wreath. In ancient Rome, people would hang wreaths made from laurel or olive branches as a sign of victory, which many believe is how the practice of hanging a wreath on the front door came to be. Although today wreaths may be found hanging in windows, on walls, or even propped up on a table surrounded by candles and decorative leaves.
These lovely garlands rings have come a long way from the simple rings of pine with the red velvet bows. Today Christmas wreaths can be found using a variety of mediums and embellishments made to complement any type of décor. Wreaths can also be artificial and made from craft foam, silk flowers, or from a variety of other crafty materials. The Christmas wreath has become an important part of the holidays as the possibilities are endless for unique and beautiful additions to any type of decorating style.
Stemming from the days when people had to struggle to overcome hard times through long, cold winters, evergreen branches were said to symbolize an enduring strength and sense of immortality. During the harsh winters of eastern Europe, people gathered evergreen branches, made them into wreaths and lit fires as a sign of their hopes for warmer weather and the impending spring season.
By the 16th century, Christians throughout Germany carried on the tradition of the evergreen wreath, which then evolved into the Advent wreath. The traditional Advent wreath featured four candles placed around the evergreen branches, with the fifth one in the center. A candle was lit one at a time, each week before Christmas, before the final one was lit on Christmas Eve to represent the birth of Jesus Christ.
Live Christmas wreaths are made from the branches of a few different types of evergreen trees. Besides pine, balsam fir are a popular choice as they are the most fragrant of all the trees in the fir family. Some are also made from dried leaves, twigs, branches, and flowers, some using preservative agents to lengthen the life of the wreath.
Some people choose an artificial Christmas wreath as it can be used over and over again, provided it is stored and cared for properly. Synthetic or imitation garland rings can also be found in many styles and themes with endless color possibilities. They are often barely distinguishable from the real wreaths. These realistic pieces may also be modified and redecorated for other holidays and seasons as well. In addition, some are also made from silk flowers that appear very realistic and include a variety of artificial, and festive touches such as birds, berries, holly, ornaments, and bows.
Besides that wonderful, familiar smell and the sense of tradition, there are several other benefits to having an authentic Christmas wreath made from live evergreens. Live wreaths are recyclable and good for the environment, but perhaps the best part of all is that trees are not cut down in order to make them, but are simply pruned or cut off. The fragrant branches will continue to grow back, year after year.
J. Cray is a writer, researcher and enjoys writing and researching family topics and issues, including the holidays, pets, and home decor.