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The History of Wreaths 

With Christmas just around the corner and wreaths starting to adorn doors up and down the country we thought we’d take a look at the history of wreaths. 

Wreaths have become an integral part of the festive season, who doesn’t love the sight of a bit of greenery decorated with anything from foraged finds to dried oranges, cinnamon, bells, and bows? But how many of us know the history of wreaths? 

Many believe they originated from Greece and Rome. In Rome, they were seen as a token of victory, especially by athletes who they crowned in wreaths that included olive, wild celery, and pine to symbolise strength. Roman soldiers also received them as a symbol of honour, when returning from battle. In Greece, they saw them as symbols of eternal life and so used them at funerals. 

Wreaths rose in popularity through ancient times and were eventually used for other events and celebrations too. Christianity built on their use as a symbol of eternal life throughout Europe.

Their association with Christmas began with the evergreen tree which was admired as, unlike most living things it could survive the harshest of winters. 

Our evergreen bay tree pyramid is always popular at Christmas as it has been carefully clipped into a pyramid shape to create a lovely contemporary feature for either side of an entrance, or in a decorative pot on the patio. Perfect for adding a bit more of a statement to your front door.

bay tree pyramid

Bay Tree Pyramid

During the sixteenth-century people started to bring trees into their houses to decorate but they often needed to be trimmed down so the waste was used to create wreaths. People were living in a time where everything in their lives was used, nothing was wasted.

Looking a little further into the history of wreaths there is also a reason for some of the decorations used. Holly berries and leaves are linked to the crucifixion of Jesus, pine and yew stand for eternal life, and pine cones, seeds, and nuts represent the renewal of life.

Of course, when decorating now, little thought is given to the history of wreaths or the decorations we use and they have become an integral part of our festive season and many also opt for a harvest wreath too. They were used to bring good fortune to crops but today they tend to be another reason to bring a little extra something special to our front doors! 

In German and Scandinavian countries, wreaths are often used to mark the winter solstice, Yule. A twelve-day period when people celebrate the return of the sun and the cycle of the seasons. The greenery and natural decor used represents new life and the coming of spring.

Interestingly, as we all look to save money this year it’s worth remembering that the wreath came from humble beginnings and was born from a period of time when everything got used and nothing was thrown away. 

We have recently launched our range of Christmas wreaths, garlands, and festive plants and are proud to be able to reassure you that any waste from the premium noble fir we use for our wreaths and garlands is chipped and composted. Take a look at our Christmas section on the website. 

Further reading

We have taken a break this month from our garden jobs blog to focus on the history of wreaths but if you are looking for a few tips why not take a look at our Garden Jobs for November or our A Focus on Hellebores, a popular winter flowering plant – we grow the helleborus gold collection® at our Herefordshire nursery.

We also suggest grabbing a cuppa and browsing our website. You can sign up to receive our newsletter to get the latest news, tips, and personalised offers.