Several years ago, I visited Williamsburg, Virginia at Christmastime. I walked the streets of this historical town, and it amazed me how preservationists kept the buildings true to the colonial period of the 18th-century city. If you never visited America’s roots during the holidays, it should go on your bucket list.
Part of the charm of Williamsburg was the authentic decorations used to recreate a true Christmas era. The most magnificent was the elaborate wreaths hanging on every door. I’m sure they are made by professional designers now, but what a site to see! Every item used to decorate them are from sources in nearby areas, such as shells from the nearby James River, coffee beans, dried native plants, drumsticks, fruit, and straw. I returned home with a camera disk filled with pictures of these beauties.
Enjoy the festive tune of “Deck the Halls” sung by the Galway Christmas Singers
I’m always amazed at the creativeness of people! How do they come up with their ideas and what was their initial inspiration? Artistic talents seem to be evident in wreaths as far back as the Persian empire. I wonder how they figured out making a round circle of dried plants delivered a beautiful headband? It seemed to work because soon after, the Greeks, in 776 BC, constructed round wreaths of olive leaves worn by the winners of the Olympic Games. Yet others wore laurel or oak leaf headpieces to designate a person’s status and rank in society.
Soldiers in the Roman Empire inserted the first bits of decorations into wreaths using fresh holly. They thought this plant had magical powers so using it kept evil spirits away from their homes. The trend of receiving good luck from wreaths moved forward into Europe as the wheat circles, now hanging on doors, brought good luck to their harvests. It was a sure sign of growth and accomplishment for the Europeans.
During the Renaissance period, in England, wreaths symbolized political and religious alliances. The Lutherans initially created the Advent wreath in Germany. They used evergreens, signifying everlasting life through Jesus, and large, circular shapes implying a God with no beginning and no end.
“O God, by whose Word all things are sanctified, pour forth Your blessing upon this wreath and grant that we who use it may prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ and may receive from You abundant graces. We ask this through Christ our Lord.”
~~St. Jerome Catholic Church~~
The country of Poland created wreaths of grain plants, fruit, and nuts for their Harvest Festival called Dozynki. When the construction of this “circle of eternal life” was complete, they walked to a church to be blessed by a priest. God now sanctified their harvest for the new season.
And so, wreaths for holidays became a household inspiration and custom. Today, the wreath is used in many celebrations, but most important at Christmas. For Christians, it is the preparation of the coming of Christ. Will you hang one on your door this year?
There is always a welcome invitation at our doorstep. We believe in God and the Immaculate Conception, so we honor Him by displaying a wreath of goodwill. God bless all who take the time to read and share our posts.
Please be sure to join another “Everything Christmas Blogs” on Sunday, November 18th!
Give the gift which keeps on giving!