A wreath is a ring made of flowers, leaves and sometimes fruits that can be used as an ornament, hanging on a wall or door, or resting on a table. A small wreath can be also worn on the head as a form of headdress.
Wreaths are commonly made from evergreens as a symbol for the strength of life, with these plants overcoming even the harshest winters. Such wreaths often use Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) and can be categorized as laurel wreaths. Other components of a wreath can be pine, holly or yew, symbolizing immortality, and cedar, symbolizing strength and healing. The Greek god Apollo is often associated with wreaths, and was a god of life and health. This inspired the Greek to use the symbol as crowns of victory at the Pythian Games, a forerunner to today's Olympic Games. The circularity of wreaths can be used to symbolize eternity or immortality (see Crown of Immortality).
In Northern Europe, wreaths made of branches of conifer trees (especially firs) are commonly used as a symbol of remembrance of the dead. For that purpose, such wreaths are often left at graves at burial (and sometimes, significant anniversaries thereof), or in cases of burial-at-sea, left to float at the sea.
These wreaths are festive crowns worn by many Romans. Wreaths were usually for women, and men usually wore crowns. They were a symbol of pride, and they were usually handmade. Most were made of flowers and branches, twigs, thread, and laurels. Wreaths were often used on special occasions such as weddings. They are also used on Remembrance Day (Canada), as a respect to those who fought and died in the Great war.
A wreath made of mostly evergreen tree twigs, sometimes with pine cones and/or a bow made of red ribbon is a common Christmas decoration. Christian households and churches often use an advent wreath made with four (or five) candles in preparation for Christmas.It is used to hang on a door as a symbol for the never-ending love of Christ.
While they are common today, their use was actually condemned as idolatry by the theological writer Tertullian in the early third century:
A wreath of laurel was used to crown winners of olympic competitions, inherited from one of the symbols of the god Apollo, who is often depicted wearing or holding a wreath of laurel leaves. Olive wreaths were also given to olympic victors. The flowers are always white.
Laurel wreaths were worn on the heads of military and government officials in parades. Roman consuls and senators wore wreaths of olive leaves in public. Funeral wreaths were a Roman custom. They often appear carved on sarcophagi.