Wreath

Wreath

[reeth]

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.

Symbolism

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.

Use by culture

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.

Christianity

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:

But "let your works shine," saith He; but now all our shops and gates shine! You will now-a-days find more doors of heathens without lamps and laurel-wreaths than of Christians...Idolatry is condemned, not on account of the persons which are set up for worship, but on account of those its observances, which pertain to demons (Tertullian. On Idolatry, Chapter XV. Translated by S. Thelwall. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Irrespective of Tertullian's complaints, wreaths have remained popular, especially during the Christmas season.

Greece

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.

Rome

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.

As an attire

A wreath is a headdress made from leaves, flowers and branches. It is typically worn in festive occasions and on holy days.

References

External links

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