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From Foliage to Fame: The evergreen life of the Christmas Wreath

Nov 16, 2023 | Flower Care

With the Festive Season trickling in, our favourite holiday decoration is due to take its rightful place and welcome our beloved guests at the entrances of our homes. From “ready-made” to “DIY”, the varieties are endless making choosing the right one that much more overwhelming. So instead, let’s stop and understand what it is that makes this adornment so precious. Looking back, the history of the, now known “Christmas Wreath”, is an intricate tapestry with a universal thread tying together both symbolism and cultures over centuries.

The tradition of adorning our homes with festive greenery during the winter months has deep roots in many ancient civilizations. We say “greenery” referring specifically to evergreens because that was the original foliage used for this decoration. Evergreens are essentially the embodiment of nature’s resilience and thus became a symbol of the enduring spirit of celebration.

The origins of the Christmas wreath can be traced back to ancient cultures that held special reverence for evergreen plants, particularly during the winter solstice. In ancient Rome, for instance, citizens celebrated the festival of Saturnalia, a period of revelry and merrymaking dedicated to the god Saturn. During this time, Romans would decorate their homes with evergreen boughs, symbolizing life’s triumph over the harsh winter.

In ancient Egypt, palm branches were used to symbolize eternal life, while in Celtic and Druidic rituals, evergreen plants were believed to possess protective powers and were brought indoors to ward off evil spirits during the cold season.

Fast forward to the Middle Ages, and Christians began incorporating wreaths into their celebrations. The Advent wreath, a circular arrangement of evergreen foliage with four candles, originated in Germany in the 16th century. Each candle represented one of the four weeks leading up to Christmas. The candles symbolized the light of Christ, with one candle lit each week during Advent as a countdown to Christmas.

The modern Christmas wreath as we know it took shape during the 19th century in Europe. People began to use evergreen branches and holly to create decorative wreaths to hang on their doors. These wreaths symbolized hospitality and goodwill, welcoming guests into the warmth of the home during the chilly winter months.

The custom of Christmas wreaths made its way to America, where it evolved with regional variations. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, people in rural communities would gather evergreen branches and create their own wreaths as a DIY holiday decoration. At The LilyPad Florist, we value the coming together of communities that this activity encourages which is the inspiration of our annual festive wreath workshops.

Christmas wreaths have become a staple of holiday decor, not just on doors but also as table centrepieces and wall hangings. The symbolism of the circular shape, representing unity and the eternal nature of love, continues to resonate.

So, when you join one of our wreath workshops, or purchase a wreath to be handmade by one of our talented designers, you know time and love went into creating it. We appreciate the symbolism attached to these festive beauties. Next time you hang your Christmas wreath on your door, remember that you’re participating in a tradition that spans centuries and cultures, and in doing so, you’re bringing a touch of history and festive spirit to your home.

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