by Patricia Bhatia
More than just a decorative touch for your wall or door, wreaths have existed in various forms since the time of the ancient Romans. Whether the wreath you hang is a crafter's masterpiece or a homemade hand-me down, it has a long tradition of meaning behind it. Wreaths are an eternal part of the festive season.

In ancient Greece a coral wreath was awarded to victors in sporting events. In the way that we now award gold medals, the wreath was a sign of victory. It meant much the same to the ancient Romans, a sign of victory over challengers.

Religiously, the advent wreath has a place in Catholic tradition. This special wreath is created with four candles, each a different color. One candle is lit each Friday of Advent with a prayer. In this, the wreath represents the coming if the Christmas celebration. Scandinavian wreaths also feature candles. The candles light the winter night's and are a sign of hope for the future light of spring. It was believed the wreath and candles would encourage the god of light to turn the world towards the sun once more.

The tradition of the wreath extends further back than the beginnings of Christian tradition. Pagan rituals of mid-winter often featured a wreath of evergreen with 4 candles. The candles were placed in each of the four directions, representing the elements of earth, wind, water and fire. Rituals were preformed to ensure the continuance of the circle of life.

Much symbolism can be attributed to the Christmas wreath. The shape of a circle has no beginning and no ending. This may represent the eternal nature of a god's love, or the circle of life. Evergreens are used to represent immortality and the victory of life through darkness and challenge. The fact that evergreens live through winter signifies the strength of life.

The decorative value of wreaths is believed to have been derived by ancient tradition. In the way that we use house numbers today, wreaths featuring different floral arrangements were used to identify different families and houses.

Also attributing to the wreath lore is the Roman use of wreaths as signs of victory. It is believed that victors of battles would hang wreaths upon their doors to advertise their status.

Today wreaths are a wonderful decorative touch, both year round and at Christmas time. It is a sign of faith in humanity and life and of victory over life's challenges. Whether you hang a wreath on the door to welcome visitors, or on the wall to complete a room's decor the splash of color on a cold winter's day is sure to add a feeling of warmth, building excitement for the coming season.

If you would like to comment on this article, please email This article appears courtesy of The Merry Syndicate at with our best wishes for a warm and merry holiday season. All copyrights reserved.