Did You Know?
The ancient Druids are the first society in known history to have worn holly and mistletoe. They believed that Holly was sacred because it remained green all year due to magical properties. In the Persian Empire, wreaths were worn as headbands and believed to be a symbol of importance and success. Ancient Greeks also adopted this philosophy and placed wreaths of laurel on the heads of victorious athletes in their Olympic Games.
Wreaths were worn as crowns by Roman leaders and were also hung on doorways as a sign of victory. The Romans thought Holly had magical properties and would exchange Holly wreaths as gifts. When the Christianity came to the Roman Empire, Holly wreaths became popular holiday decorations. However, because the plants were believed to be magical, they were considered pagan in nature by some. In 575 a.d, a German Catholic Bishop forbade all Christmas greens, condemning them as “dangerous and heathen”. The plants would not be used again for some time.
By the 17th century, Holly had become a part of Christmas celebrations once again, taking on a more spiritual meaning. As a Christian symbol for Christ’s suffering and ultimate triumph over death, it is believed that the holly wreath was representative of the crown of thorns worn by Christ on the cross with the berries symbolizing drops of blood. Later wreaths were formed from a variety of pines and firs, with evergreens, plants that are available year round, embodying eternal life. Christmas Wreaths came to stand for peace, joy, and contentment.
Hung on the door or a window, the wreath has been viewed as an invitation to the spirit of Christmas to enter the home and bring luck, suggesting as well that the Christmas spirit dwells within. Today the wreaths main function is decorative. It is used as an outlet for creativity around the holidays.