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Friday, March 20, 2015

Seasonal Wreaths

Holiday wreaths and their adornment of homes and especially doors have occurred for hundreds of years. They are meant to be a symbol of growth and everlasting life and are often made from materials such as flowers, leaves, and evergreens. 

The wreath as an object spans history and is rooted in religion as far back as the Persian Empire. Originally a circlet or wreath was called a "diadem" and was worn as a headbands adorned in gold and jewels. Wreaths were even used to symbolize success and victory such as the laurel leaves used to crown victors of Olympic Games.

At some point they transitioned from jewelry and instead began to adorn walls as a decoration. Today, beautifully decorated wreaths are not only an integral part of the December holidays, but have grown in popularity throughout the year, decorated to fit each season.

The most common use of this symbol is the Advent wreath. Although its true origin is unknown, some believe it was inspired by the Swedish Crown of Lights, a candle-bearing crown worn by young Swedish girls on St. Lucia's Day. St. Lucia was a young Christian martyr who gave her entire dowry to the poor.

The making of wreaths is an ancient and honored art that began about a thousand years before the birth of Christ and the celebration of Christmas. The Christmas Wreath symbolizes the strength of life overcoming the forces of winter. The custom of hanging a wreath on the front door of your home probably came from the ancient practice to celebrate victory or success.

At Christmas, the wreath is symbolic of Christian immortality. The circle and the sphere are symbols of immortality. The traditional colors of Christmas are green and red. Green represents the continuance of life through the winter and the Christian belief in eternal life through Christ. Red symbolizes the blood that Jesus shed at his crucifixion.

As time progressed people put wreaths on their doors to identify their home. In early Europe each house would have a different wreath made of quite exotic flowers, most likely grown by the home owner right on their own land. Today, wreaths are a common custom in New England, with a different wreath for each season.

I have a small collection of wreaths that adorn my front door and represent the changing of the season and the cycle of life.  

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