The Christmas Wreath

Wreaths are more than just decorations. If you’re driving through town during the Holiday Season, you may see a Christmas wreath on almost every front door. Most people don’t think of the rich history attached to these beautiful Christmas decorations.

The word wreath comes from the word “writhen” that was an old English word meaning “to writhe” or “to twist.” The art of hanging Christmas wreaths originated from the Romans who hung wreaths on their doors as a sign of victory and of their status in society.

Perhaps the loveliest use of this symbol is the Advent wreath. Although its true origin is not know, some believe it was inspired by the Swedish Crown of Lights, a candle-bearing crown worn by young Swedish girls on St. Lucia’s Day. St. Lucia was a young Christian martyr who gave her entire dowry to the poor.

Traditionally, the wreath is made of four candles in a circle of evergreens with a fifth candle in the middle. Three candles are violet and the fourth is rose, but four white candles or four violet candles can also be used. Each day at home, the candles are lighted, perhaps before the evening meal — one candle the first week, and then another each succeeding week until December 25th. A short prayer may accompany the lighting of each candle. The last candle is the middle candle. The lighting of this candle takes place on Christmas Eve. It represents Jesus Christ being born.

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