The Christmas Wreath
By Robin Mull
A wreath, bountiful and full, adds color and warmth to the front doors of homes throughout the year. For Christians, the Christmas wreath is more than a decoration; it’s a symbol of eternal life through Christ our Savior. There is no beginning and no end.
The long-lasting evergreen wreaths connect us to the pagan holiday of Yule, marking the winter solstice. Long before the beginning of Christianity, the wreath was significant in Europe because its circular shape symbolized protection. To the Romans, the wreath symbolized power and honor. In Greece, a wreath was awarded as a prize to poets and Olympic winners.
“Likewise in Christianity, the idea or the belief in a God who is eternal was adopted by early Christians to show forth the Good News or the belief in the Resurrection of Christ,” said Father Salvatore R. Lamendola, pastor of the partner parishes of St. Martin and St. Joseph, Derry. “And for many we just think it’s a very nice and appropriate decoration for Christmas.”
Incorporating certain colors in a wreath, such as red and green, has always been intentional.
“Those two colors are not just stylistically nice but they have a deeper spiritual meaning,” Father Lamendola says. “However, if you really stop and look at the symbols that are in the wreath, it might make us think more about our faith. And I think that’s the purpose, the reason behind the reason.”
Circular shape – Traditional wreaths are in the form of a circle, which is a symbol of eternity. The spiritual meaning stands for divine perfection and God’s never-ending love.
Evergreen – The evergreen represents the unending nature of God, a metaphor for life after death. Green is also the color of hope and life.
Holly leaves – Holly plants have strong leaves but also sharp thorns. Holly symbolizes the crown of thorns placed on Jesus’ head before he died on the cross. This serves as a reminder to Christians of the suffering He endured for us. Holly is know as “christdorn” in German, meaning “Christ thorn.”
Holly berries – The bright and vivid red of the holly berries serves as a symbol of color and life during cold winter months. The color represents the blood of Christ, as well as his Passion, death and Resurrection.