Wreaths are often hung on doors during Christmas as a sign of welcome and holiday cheer. The ring shape symbolizes eternity, and the use of evergreen has come to symbolize strength or eternal life.
The history of hanging wreaths dates back to the days of ancient Rome when the Roman people hung them or wore them as a symbol of status or a sign of victory. These were often made with twisted sprigs of laurel. Records of wreaths hung on the outside of doors date back to early Europe, where they were often made with exotic flowers and used to identify houses on the street.
The December wreath was an important part of pagan cultures before the time of Christ. Evergreen branches were shaped into rings to symbolize death and rebirth during the winter solstice. In these times, evergreen plants represented the strength to battle the harsh forces of winter. Later, Christian cultures adopted the wreath, adding four candles for the four Sundays preceding Christmas.
Other materials incorporated into wreaths have their own meaning, such as the holly that represents immortality. The modern view of wreaths has been simplified over the years, and they are now used by people of various backgrounds and traditions simply to convey the joy of the season.