In modern times, a wreath is a symbol of everlasting life and growth that is commonly associated with the Christmas holiday season. Throughout history, however, the wreath has been used as a symbol with numerous other meanings.
The term "wreath" is commonly used to describe an assortment of leaves, twigs, flowers and fruits that form a ring. Usually made from evergreen plants, wreaths are a symbol of eternity.
Ancient Etruscans used wreaths made from gold or other precious metals as a symbol of power. Etruscan rulers wore wreaths as crowns, and the power symbolism of the wreath continued in the Greco-Roman antiquity. In Ancient Greece, the wreath was also an important symbol of fertility, with the harvest wreath being a sacred amulet for farmers and their families.
The harvest wreath is a popular symbol in modern Poland, where it is the central piece of the Harvest Festival. Other modern countries that use wreaths for harvest celebrations include Hungary, Ukraine and other Eastern European countries.
The association of the wreath with Christmas dates back to the 16th century, when the Lutherans in Germany started to use it as a symbol of the Advent. The Advent wreath has a circular shape to represent God with no beginning and no end.