The word "wreath" comes from the Old English "writhan," meaning "to twist," and over the centuries, wreaths have been associated with a variety of cultures. Wreaths date back to the Persian Empire, ancient Egypt, and ancient Greece. At first they were used in other ways. In the Persian Empire, wreaths called diadems were a sign of power or authority worn as a headdress. Ancient Egyptians had a type of wreath headdress, but theirs was made of flowers. In Greece, particularly Rome, wreaths made of laurel were worn by emperors and awarded to warriors and others as a symbol of honor. Romans also awarded laurel wreaths to those who won a victory. Wreaths were also hung on doors as a symbol of victory.
Wreaths are also connected with the pagan holiday of Yule, marking the winter solstice, which was celebrated by ancient Germanic and Scandinavian peoples. The wreaths used during Yule were meant to symbolize nature and the promise of spring. Rome, too, had an annual midwinter celebration, called Saturnalia. Romans used holly wreaths as a form of decoration and also gave them as gifts.
The most widespread and well-known use of wreaths comes in connection with Christmas. In Christianity, their circular shape is said to symbolize eternal life and the unending love of God. In the 16th century, the use of wreaths during Yule was adopted by Christians and became a custom in the form of Advent wreaths. These wreaths were traditionally made of evergreens, which also symbolize eternal life, holly oak, and red berries.
For some people, Christmas wreaths are not meant to be religious symbols but rather are strictly for decoration. Today, a wreath that's hanging on one's door at Christmas may be inviting the spirit of Christmas into the home along with good luck.
Now you know a little of the history of the wreath! Have a Holly Jolly Day!!