History of the Wreath: From Crown to Decoration

Lavender Country WreathWhen modern Americans think about wreaths, we usually think about the Christmas holiday season. But wreaths have a much deeper history and a much broader reach in modern decorating.

A wreath is a collection of flowers, vines, twigs, fruits, or other materials fashioned into the shape of a ring.

In ancient Greece, the laurel wreath was associated with Apollo and symbolized victory. Laurel wreaths were given as prizes for achievement in both war and athletics. The original Olympic Games awarded laurel wreaths to its victors, and the impression of a laurel wreath is designed into modern Olympic medals.

But these early wreaths were worn on the head and ancient Greeks. Later the Romans were ceremonially crowned with them. For this reason, the wreath evolved into a status symbol worn by artists, athletes, warriors, and then kings. The head wreaths worn by kings were later made from precious metals and gems and evolved into the modern day crown.

While wreath winners probably displayed their trophies on the wall or other places in their homes, the wreath didn’t become a common decoration until 16th century Christians fashioned them in celebration of the Advent season.

Culinary Herb WreathModern wreaths are still worn in many cultures for festive occasions. The decorative value of the wreath has spread from the Advent season to a thing of year-round enjoyment. Seasonally changing the wreath on your front door can evoke a welcoming feeling upon your homecoming as well as make any guest feel honored.

Indoors, wreaths can ring pillar candles to become decorative centerpieces. Small wreaths can hang on the backs of chairs. Wreaths of various sizes can be displayed concentrically, providing a wealth of color and texture. A country wreath can adorn the wall of any room or even the back of the bathroom door.

Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, there’s something about a wreath that resonates deep within us and seeing one, or wearing one can trigger excitement, joy, or even nostalgia.

Do you have a decorative wreath idea? A wreath story or memory? We’d love to hear about it. Please send or post your comments, pictures, and stories.

Shoreline WreathFourth of July Wreath

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One Response to “History of the Wreath: From Crown to Decoration”

  1. [...] History of the Wreath: From Crown to Decoration « Shoptalk by Sturbridge Yankee Workshop [...]

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