Let’s take stroll down memory lane, a very long stroll. Approximately 2400 years ago, the Salii (Etruscans) of Southern Europe adorned themselves with corona sutilis. This special item was constructed of flowers, more specifically roses, and formed into an elegant chaplet to be worn at a festival events. The ancient Romans wore them to denote power and pride. The Greeks, wore this as token of accomplishment and victory over the enemy. The Celts of Europe created this circular emblem to celebrate the Winter Solstice.
Throughout the ages this enduring symbol holds meaning across a multitude of religious and cultural beliefs. This is the season for its abundance use – on doors, windows, and fireplace mantles. It is a “thing bound around,” (diadema, Greek). A Wreath. Traditional wreaths are in the form of a circle and constructed of evergreen materials.
This circle has numerous meanings, both to Christians and non-Christians alike:
- The eternal presence of God, with no beginning and no end
- The cycle of the seasons, from spring to winter and eventually to spring again
- The hope of life renewing itself
- The hope of eternal life through Christ the Savior
- The unending love of God
Evergreen materials were used in many early configurations as they generally represented strength of life and survival through difficult times. The evergreens included in each wreath bear a unique meaning:
- Holly represents the crown of thorns that Christ wore at the Crucifixion
- Pine, holly and yew symbolize eternal life
- Cedar stands for healing
- Laurel represents the conquest over pain and suffering
- Pine cones, seeds and nuts represent birth and rebirth
Historically, in the event of birth, a corona natalitia – was hung. In Greece, if a male, the crown was made from the olive tree; when a female, it was made of wool. The Romans made similar vestibule decor out of the leaves of laurel, ivy or parsley!
Wreaths are a beloved Christmas decoration among a diversity of people. From use by the ancients to our generation today they continue to be hung on the front doors of homes and mantles. No matter live or evergreen, wreaths have a long and rich history which have connected us past to present. To touch history is when tradition is born. Start your unbroken circle by placing a wreath for the season.
The Meaning of the Christmas Wreath
Every Christmas wreath is more than a decoration
…it’s a special reminder of Jesus, the reason for our celebration.
The circle of a Christmas wreath is a never ending ring,
a reminder of eternal love from our Lord and King.
The Christmas wreath is a sign of welcome, inviting all to enter in
….a reminder of Christ’s invitation for all to come to Him.
The middle of a Christmas wreath is a bare and empty space,
a reminder of what life would be without Christ’s love and grace.
So each time you see a Christmas wreath
hanging from a door,
may your heart rejoice in the One
that Christmas is truly for!
By Holley Gerth