A Christmas wreath lets you know that the season to be jolly has arrived, Source: Unsplash

The Christmas wreath: What’s the story behind the green circle?

The Christmas wreath: What’s the story behind the green circle?

Another traditional splash of greenery that gives us comfort during the holidays

You know that the holiday season is upon us when the ads on TV get into their Christmas promotions, aptly tinged with the necessary green and red colour scheme. That, and when your neighbours’ entrance doors start sporting green wreaths.

But why do we even hang those things? Like many other traditions that we have today, Christmas wreaths hide their origin somewhere in the distant past.

In fact, as far back as Antiquity, and even then, we find it in different cultures. In the Persian Empire, wreaths called diadems were a sign of power or authority worn as a headdress. They were made of fabric, adorned with jewels, and often worn by royalty. Ancient Egyptians also wore a type of wreath as a headdress, but theirs was made of flowers and called a chaplet.

In the Roman Empire, wreaths made of laurel were worn by emperors and awarded to warriors and others as a symbol of honour. Additionally, Romans awarded olive leaf and laurel wreaths to winning athletes and even poets. Wreaths were also hung on doors and are believed to have been signs of victory.

As a marker of holidays

It was those Ancient Romans that also figured out that wreaths were a cool thing to use as decoration come the holiday season. Before Christmas became a thing, they celebrated Saturnalia, from 17 to 23 December, and lo and behold they figured out that the wreaths were also a nifty thing to use as gifts and decorations.

The Church, famous for adopting and repurposing pagan traditions, found that wreaths were useful to keep around. However, it was their meaning that had to change. Their circular shape was said to symbolize eternal life and the unending love of God.

In another symbolic interpretation, the red berries and the thorny leaves of the holly oak represented the crown of thorns worn by Jesus and the drops of blood that they drew.

It is believed that the first Advent wreaths were used by Lutherans in Germany in the 16th century. Eventually, they also spread to the Catholic parts of Europe in the 19th century. And nowadays, wreaths have become an irreplaceable mainstay for Christmas or even secular decorations.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU