The Tradition of the Christmas Wreath
Centuries ago, long before the birth of Christ, the wreath was always a part of festive processions. The evergreen wreath has always been a Christian emblem of eternal life and God’s faithfulness to all humanity because of its hardiness and ability to withstand the cold winter temperatures.
An advent wreath is a ring or set of four candles, usually made with evergreen cuttings and used for household devotion by some Christians during the season of Advent, or the holy season for the Christian church. Many churches illuminate these candles in succession through the four weeks leading up to Christmas as part of their Sunday services.
Typically, three of the candles are violet-colored, and one is rose-colored, but some choose to use all purple or all blue candles. When used in household devotion, one candle is lit on the first evening of Advent, which falls on a Saturday. Each Saturday thereafter during Advent another candle is lit. Some wreaths have a large white candle in the center which is lit on Christmas Day to signify Christ’s birth.
The first Advent wreath was invented by Johann Hinrich Wichern; a Protestant parson in Hamburg, Germany in the 1830’s and 1840’s and was in charge of an orphanage. The children of the orphanage made a wooden ring and affixed red and white candles on one side of it. During each service of daily prayer a child would light one candle, until, on Christmas Eve, all of them would be illuminated. It is thought that children liked this ring so much that they decorated it with evergreen twigs, mainly from fir trees. Later the number of candles was reduced to the four main ones.
The tradition of hanging a Christmas wreath took a while to catch on in Germany. When German immigrants came to America, they brought this old tradition with them, and now it’s a household tradition for many families to have a wreath made from evergreen hanging upon the front door of their home.
Christmas Wreaths For Your Home
Most people think of a wreath as a special Christmas-themed decorative ring of pine branches decorated with berries or holly. The truth is, wreaths made from dried twigs or branches are often used to enhance home decor year round, as these rings of greenery, leaves and flowers can be great decorative pieces for every season especially Autumn and Summer. Wreaths represent the continuity of life.
Evergreen branches of the wreath came to represent the strength and perseverance of people during difficult times of famine and war. In ancient Roman times, wreaths made from olive or laurel branches to declare victory, were hung in the window areas or the main doorway, or on a table surrounded by candles. The birth of the Christmas wreath came from this old tradition. Christmas wreaths are most well known as decorative pieces that add that special touch to Christmas yuletide season.
Today these wreaths can be bought in a specialty store where there are a variety of styles, sizes and prices available. Most are artificial but look realistic, as they are decorated with dried or silk flowers, artificial berries or holly and sometimes pine cones and ribbons or even lights. These ringed garlands have become a significant part of the holidays as the possibilities are endless for unique and creative ideas to accent the holiday home decor.
Fresh cut or real Christmas wreaths are often crafted from pine and fragrant balsam fir, but are also made from dried leaves, dried twigs, branches, and a mixture of dried flowers, with some using preservatives to extend the life of the wreath.
The advantage of a synthetic wreath is that with proper care and storage, it can be used every year. Most of these wreaths are high quality and extra touches can be added such as berries, bows, silk flowers, bird decorations and more. With a fresh real wreath, the benefits are that the fragrance is wonderful while trees are not destroyed to produce the wreath. Evergreen branches are pruned for the wreaths and will grow back, and in addition, realistic wreaths can be recycled.
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