Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas. Calvin Coolidge.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Christmas Wreaths

Christmas wreaths - origins & trivia

In ancient Rome, people used decorative wreaths as a sign of victory. Some believe that this isChristmas wreath where the hanging of wreaths on doors came from.
The origins of the Advent wreath are found in the folk practices of the pre-Christian Germanic peoples who, during the cold December darkness of Eastern Europe, gathered wreaths of evergreen and lighted fires as signs of hope in a coming spring and renewed light. Christians kept these popular traditions alive, and by the 16th century Catholics and Protestants throughout Germany used these symbols to celebrate their Advent hope in Christ, the everlasting Light. From Germany the use of the Advent wreath spread to other parts of the Christian world. Traditionally, the wreath is made of four candles in a circle of evergreens with a fifth candle in the middle. Three candles are violet and the fourth is rose, but four white candles or four violet candles can also be used. Each day at home, the candles are lighted, perhaps before the evening meal-- one candle the first week, and then another each succeeding week until December 25th. A short prayer may accompany the lighting of each candle. The last candle is the middle candle. The lighting of this candle takes place on Christmas Eve. It represents Jesus Christ being born.

What is the Meaning of the Christmas Wreath?
The term "Wreath", curiously enough, is linked to our word "Wrist", with both terms forming a continuous physical circular shape. It also came from Middle English's "wrethe", meaning a twisted band or ring of leaves or flowers in a garland.
Types of Christmas Wreaths
Advent Wreath, Christmas Wreath & Christmas Candles

The Advent Wreath

Christmas Wreath
Wreaths have been used symbolically for centuries. The circle or ring shape is symbolic of eternity or eternal life, because the shape has no beginning or end. Back in ancient Rome, this symbol became so powerful that people used decorative wreaths as a sign of victory. Some believe that this is where the hanging of wreaths on doors came from.
Putting plants into the symbolic circular shape symbolizes the strength of life overcoming the forces of winter. Wreaths and other decorations during long winters often consisted of whatever natural materials looked attractive at this bleak time of year. People used candles, fires, evergreens, hollies, berries, and forced blossoms to hold on to the promise of spring.
Types of Christmas Wreaths
While there are many designs and styles of Christmas Wreaths, they mainly fall into two categories, the Decorative Christmas Wreath and the Advent Wreath.
The Decorative Christmas Wreath is made simply for crafts and holiday decorations, similar in use to Christmas Lights. These have a different purpose than other types of wreaths. Wreaths give a house or office the "finishing touch" to the holiday decorations. Their symbolism and look just give the area the little extra Christmas feeling. Decorative Christmas Wreaths are usually made of evergreen leaves, holly, or other materials which symbolize life throughout tough winters.
The Advent Wreath is a tradition that is a part of folklore from centuries ago. The Pre-Christian Germanic people during the cold December darkness of Eastern Europe, gathered wreaths and lighted fires as signs of hope in the coming spring and renewed light. The 16th century Catholics and Protestants used wreaths as symbols to celebrate their hope in Christ, the everlasting Light. From Germany, the use of the Advent Wreath spread to other parts of the world.
Traditionally, the Advent Wreath is made of four violet or rose candles in a circle of evergreens with a fifth candle in the middle. Each day at home, the candles are lighted before the evening meal, one candle for the first week, and then another each succeeding week until December 25th. The last candle is the middle candle of the wreath. The lighting of this candle takes place on Christmas Eve and represents the birth of Jesus Christ.


  1. Christmas wreaths are so beautiful. Whether they are made from evergreen, pine cones, tinsel, Styrofoam, wood or rope, when a wreath is hanging on someone’s front door it just seems to say “Welcome” as well as inspiring some Christmas spirit.

    Of course, Laura Legend has to know if there is any historical significance behind the tradition of Christmas wreaths, even if the question will likely never come up in a trivia game!

    You see, there is no supported information about the precise origin of the Christmas wreath; however, there are some historical facts that are somewhat associated with Christmas wreaths along with some legends and some long-lived customs regarding Christmas wreaths.

    Many wreaths, before novelty-type influences, were made of holly. In ancient times Celts believed that holly had magical protective powers. In Roman mythology holly was sacred to Saturn, the sun god and pagans worshipped holly. Holly wreaths were also common to winter solstice celebrations.

    Needless to say, the use of holly Christmas wreaths for celebration of the birth of Christ were controversial among Christians due to their association with magical power, paganism and multi-theism.

    Never the less, decorating the halls with boughs of holly during the Christmas season became a tradition even in Christian homes. Some legends hold that the crown of thorns placed on Christ’s head at the time of the crucifixion was actually a wreath of holly with white berries that turned red from Christ’s blood.
    Fun Fact: There is more than one species of holly, some bushes and some trees. Some are evergreen and some are not. Holly berries are beautiful but can be toxic to humans if eaten.

    In Germany, where the tradition of Christmas trees can be traced to, a Lutheran tradition emerged -- the Advent wreath. The Advent wreath is made of evergreen and is symbolic of eternity in God’s grace. It has three purple candles that represent penance, sorrow and expectation, and one pink candle which stands for hope and joy. The Advent wreath represents the four weeks of Advent and is used with white candles during the Christmas season.

    The Advent wreath, minus the candles, is most similar to the wreaths used today for festive holiday decor, so most likely, the modern day tradition of Christmas wreaths originated from the Lutheran influence.

  2. Eco-Friendly Christmas Wreath Ideas

    Mixed Greens

    This woodsy design, studded with fruit and plants, blends faux and real. From the crafts store, purchase a 16-inch grapevine wreath and artificial Granny Smith apples. Use a hot glue gun to affix the apples, spacing them equally around the ring. Select an assortment of seasonal flora from the florist or the forest — pinecones, fragrant eucalyptus, and juniper — and weave them into the grapevine, filling in the areas between the apples.

    Take It from Him

    Turn Dad's old ties into door decor. You'll need a 14-inch wire wreath form from a crafts shop and 19 ties. Cut all ties but one into 15-inch lengths. Position the narrow end of first cut tie, front side up, on a section of the wreath. Wrap tie around form until pointed end is positioned as shown, hiding the rolled tie; secure with pins. Repeat, overlapping ties slightly. Flip wreath over; sew rolled-up ties to the backs of points. Pin on the uncut, bowed tie.

    Recycled Wreath

    Recycle holiday greeting cards into holly leaves for this one-of-a-kind decoration. Using a holly leaf stencil, trace onto old cards and cut out holly shapes. With a glue gun, glue a toothpick onto the backside of each of the leaves to form a 1-inch pick at the "bottom" of each leaf. Take a 10-inch Styrofoam wreath and insert these leaf picks around the shape until it is completely covered, fanning and overlapping them as shown. Cut out more holly leaves as needed to cover the wreath with regifted greetings.

  3. Candy Wreath Craft

    Materials Needed:

    Wire Hanger
    Wrapped Candy
    Regular or Curling Ribbon
    Wire Cutters

    Straighten the hanger and then cut off a piece about 12-inches long. Bend that piece into a circle shape that is about 5-inches across. Overlap the ends and twist them together. Of course, you can adjust the size of your circle as much as you like. I used about 50 wrapped candies on my 5-inch wreath so you will need more if you make it bigger and less if you make it smaller.

    Once you have the wreath base made, you can add the candy! You can use any kind of wrapped candy you like, anything from traditional peppermint rounds to suckers. About 50 of them should fill your wreath nicely, but this number can vary a bit from person to person because of how close they are tied together and the size of the candies used.

    Cut the ribbon into pieces about 8-inches long. Take 1 piece of candy and tie it to the center of a piece of ribbon. Then, use the ribbon to tie the candy tightly onto the wreath. You can either cut off the extra ribbon or leave it. The ends can be curled to add a nice touch to your wreath. Continue this process until you have the wreath as full of candy as you like.

    To hang your wreath, cut a piece of ribbon and tie it around the wreath and into a loop. You can even eat the candy by simply unwrapping it, leaving the wrapper attached to the wreath!