A wreath adds beauty and color to the season, but the Christmas wreath meaning contributes more than just splendor. A wreath has spiritual meaning as well. During one of the most important Christian holidays, it represents fundamental principles of the religion.
Early Wreath Traditions
The wreath is an ancient symbol. The Romans used it to denote power and pride. To the Greeks, a wreath symbolized accomplishment and victory. Both cultures wore the wreath as a personal decoration.
Early Germanic cultures used a wreath as a table decoration. Candles were added to festoon the traditional evergreen circle. This decoration, used in the cold days of winter, was a reminder that spring would soon come and the Earth would again be warm.
Christmas Wreath Meaning and Symbolism
Each part of the Christmas wreath has a meaning in keeping with the season. Each symbol recognizes a part of the Christian belief system.
Traditional wreaths are in the form of a circle. This circle has numerous meanings, both to Christians and non-Christians alike:
The eternal presence of God, with no beginning and no end
The cycle of the seasons, from spring to winter and eventually to spring again
The hope of life renewing itself
The hope of eternal life through Christ the Savior
The unending love of God
Materials in the Wreath
The early wreaths were made out of several evergreen materials. The evergreens in general represent continuity and survival through difficult times. Each evergreen used, however, also has a meaning:
Holly represents the crown of thorns that Christ wore at the Crucifixion
Pine, holly and yew symbolize eternal life
Cedar stands for healing
Laurel represents the conquest over pain and suffering
Pine cones, seeds and nuts represent birth and rebirth
The traditional Christmas colors of red and green also have symbolic meaning. Green represents the life and growth. For Christians it stands for the eternal life of the soul. Red signifies the blood Christ shed on the cross.
The Advent Wreath
This special type of seasonal decoration is full of symbolism. Adapted from the Germanic custom, this tabletop wreath is popular in several Christian denominations, including the Catholics, Lutherans and Anglicans.
Advent wreaths usually consist of an evergreen circle, four purple or rose candles and one white candle. The purple candle represents the four weeks prior to Christmas, called Advent. One candle is lit the first week, two the second week and so on, until Christmas day, when the white candle is lit to denote the Birth of Christ. The advent wreath is lit every night after a short prayer.
The advent wreath represents the anticipation of the coming of Jesus. The lighting of the candles reminds us that Christ is the Light of the world. The color purple symbolism reverence and prayer. The white candle represents the purity of Christ and the Virgin Birth.
The Christmas wreath is a beautiful decoration full of religious symbolism. It denotes the spiritual belief in life everlasting and the rebirth of the spirit. To Christians, it is a way of professing the miracle of the birth of Christ.