Symbolic Wreath Meaning
Wreath Meaning All Year. They’re Not Just For Christmas!
Exploring Symbolic Wreath Meaning: The wreath. We see them, and perhaps think “oh, that’s pretty.” Then move along to other things, never really stopping to see the deeper meaning beneath the wreath. In my mind, the wreath is a woefully underappreciated symbol. Sure…they are delightful to look at – but they’re more than just a pretty decoration. So much more.
If you’ve been following my symbolic work for awhile, you know I like to dissect a symbol to its grass roots. In the wreath’s case, the core symbolic feature is the circle.
So, what? Big deal, right? Just a measly ol’ circle. Ha! The circle has epic symbolism, and should not be underestimated in our symbolic studies.
The circle is a key feature of the wreath that expresses big stuff like: Inclusion, Unity, Wholeness, Infinity, Focus and a litany of other profound meanings. In cosmology, circles are a symbolic representation of our luminaries, the sun and moon. Circles also represent time, and the cycles of the seasons. Casting a circle in spiritual practices suggests protecting that which is enclosed. There’s oodles more to contemplate about the circle. Check the full article of symbolic circle meaning here.
So what does this mean for the wreath? At its prime root, the wreath embodies the noble circle-concepts of protection, unity and balance. These concepts morph depending upon the purpose of the wreath. Specifically, wreath meaning is enhanced according to the materials with which it’s made, and its function.
In order to truly appreciate the oft-overlooked meaning of the wreath, I’ve set out a few insights about different kinds and their symbolic bearing. The idea here is to expose the rich, deep substance dwelling beneath the simplicity of the wreath. It’s my hope this article prompts you to look upon every wreath with fresh perspective and renewed delight.
Various Symbolic Wreath Meaning
Meaning of Christmas Wreaths and Winter Wreaths:
These wreaths are commonly made from the lovely stuff of evergreens, like: Holly, pine, pine cones, fir, cedar, etc. Evergreens pack a powerful wallop of symbolism. They represent renewal, rebirth, everlasting life, memory and hope. Why? It all started with our observant and spiritually savvy ancestors. Way before the dawn of the industrial age, cell phones and computers – our descendants didn’t have much else to do but observe how Nature worked. Early civilizations such as Native Americans, Celts and Norse noticed how evergreens kept their vim and vigor – whereas deciduous trees seemed to ‘lose their life’ (turning color and dropping their leaves). Early man’s way of thinking was extraordinarily symbolic. They considered the constancy of life evident in evergreens and applied it to their own life experience. Specifically, the evergreen is a symbol of ongoing vitality – even in the dormant winter months. Hence, wreaths were made of evergreen material as a reminder that life is constant – even when it seems withdrawn.
If you’re donning a winter wreath on your door, or making one – here are a few symbolic tips for the materials used and the meaning of Christmas wreaths:
Holly: This is the king of the dark half of the year (winter). It’s resilient and lends cheer to an otherwise stark landscape. Holly is symbolic of protection, victory and good luck. Find out more about Holly Symbolism here.
Pine and Pine cones: In China, pines are symbolic of long life and prosperity. In North America, the pine is a symbol for good health and protection. The pine cone is symbolic of enhanced psychic vision and flowering awareness. Find out more about Pine Symbolism (Christmas Tree) here. Also check out Pine cone Meanings here.
Fir: The fir shares much of the same symbolism as the pine, with a few additions. Ancient Celts assessed this sturdy tree and deemed it worthy of noble traits like: Strength, friendship, connection, memory and immortality. Find out more about Fir Symbolism here.
Check out my article on Christmas Meanings and Christmas Symbols here.
Floral, Spring Wreaths and Summer Wreaths
As you can guess, spring (and their wreaths) is the announcement of new life upon the land. In the old way of thinking (particularly in areas subjected to harsh winters) it’s a time of major celebration. The sun returns, vegetation and life come back in full force. After an austere winter, spring and summer feels like Nature on steroids. A spring or summer wreath is a great symbol to illustrate birth, renewal, life and abundance. Adorning the home with a spring wreath is the perfect way to say “Yeah! Thank you!” to mother nature for all of her bounty. There’s tons you can do to make a splendid spring wreath. The materials you use will flavor the symbolic meaning. Here are a few ideas…
Does it matter what kind of flowers we use for wreaths? Absolutely! Every flower holds its own unique, symbolic scent. Tulips are some of the first to cheerfully burst from the soil in spring. This gives them symbolism of opportunity, welcome and joy. Daffodils are also early risers, and have symbolism of friendship, delight and creative expression. Roses represent love, passion and remembrance of loved ones who have passed into non-physical. Daisies stand for innocence, purity and honesty. Sunflowers – connected with the sun and summer, these flowers are symbolic of spiritual growth, radiance and energy. In essence, the sky is the limit when you want to say it with flowers. Here’s a helpful article about Flower Meanings. You might also get ideas from Flower Color Meanings for your spring wreath.
The first time I saw a spring wreath adorned with eggs, I was completely enchanted. The wreath was made of thin twigs to look like a nest, and it had itty bitty blue robins’ eggs (fake, of course) interspersed. So cute! There’s behemoth symbolism in those delicate little ovals. To wit, pretty much all life comes from one type of egg or another. Alchemists subscribe to the belief the whole cosmos was cracked from a gargantuan, celestial egg. The Celtic bards tell a story of a cosmic egg cracking – the yolk became matter and ruled the day (light). The albumen (that clear stuff) became the heavens, and ruled the night. Legends around the world are rife with the egg being synonymous with the birth of life. What better way to welcome Nature’s symbolic return to life than with a spring wreath or summer wreath?
Autumn Wreath Meanings
Wreaths are a great way to express our devotion and understanding about the change of time. As mentioned, the circle itself is a symbol of seasons and time cycles. Autumn is a phase of life that addresses powerful concepts like: Harvest, transition, withdrawal. To our early ancestors, fall represented a decline or retrograde of life. Crops were culled and cattle were slaughtered. Although life certainly continues – in a symbolic way, this was still a time of life’s end. Nature itself seemed to retreat. Changing of leaves, colder days – it’s all a sign of moving from one phase to another.
An autumn wreath will embrace this time of transition. It’s a great symbol for honing our focus on the stuff we’ve achieved and gained. Autumn wreath meaning celebrates a bountiful year, and expresses gratitude for the harvest. This doesn’t have to mean a harvest of corn or pumpkins. In our modern world we experience harvests by accomplishing goals, reaping rewards from our toil and enjoying hard-won victories.
If you’re planning on making an autumn wreath, the materials you pick for decorations will weigh in on the wreath meaning. Here are a few ideas with symbolic associations…
Such a tiny little thing, but a vessel of supreme symbolism. The acorn makes the quintessential statement: “Big things come in little packages.” Consider the oak tree. It’s a bold, magnificent tree – capable of growing over 50 feet. And to think it was born from a wee acorn. In a way, the acorn is akin to the Biblical mustard seed. From just a miniscule seed (of faith, hope) the potential for magnificent personal growth indwells.
For obvious reasons, the oak is symbolic of strength, expansiveness and power. It derives these meanings from their impressive girth and height. The Druids were wild over oak trees. It was considered one of the holiest of holy trees. In the Celtic Ogham, the oak is a chieftain – which translates to big medicine. Oaks were observed to live hundreds of years, which affirmed their symbolism of life, immortality and endurance. Learn more about Celtic views about Oak Symbolism here.
This is another legendary symbol of life. Indeed, the Aztecs believed the whole human race was born from corn seed. Interestingly, in most Northern Native American legends, corn is associated with the divine feminine. Cherokee, Keresan, Penobscot, Hidatsa are just a few among many tribes who attribute birth, fertility and motherhood to corn.
More Ideas for Wreath Meaning
Wreaths and their symbolic expressions don’t stop with the seasons. Nope. Wreaths can be employed to express love, devotion and memorial all year round. Here are a few examples…
Funerary, Memorial Wreaths:
Placing a wreath upon a loved one’s gravesite is a beautiful way to honor a memory. Some materials with powerful meaning include: Pansies – symbolic of memory and affection. Carnations – symbolic of friendship and faithfulness. Flags – symbolic of military service.
Victory Wreath Meaning:
These are a throwback from the Greek Olympics. The winner of various feats of strength would be awarded a laurel wreath in the form of a crown. Laurel was sacred to the sun god, Apollo. Other symbols of victory you might include on your wreath are: Palm – symbolic of victory, peace and paradise. Thunderbolt – symbolic of divine conquest, power and supremacy. Eagle – symbolic of nobility, ascension and achievement.
What better way to illustrate the circle of life for a newborn than creating a wreath!? As mentioned, the circle of the wreath is symbolic of the whole of life. It also represents the egg, from which a child is born. Now, I’m not a big fan of koochie-koo stuff like teddy bears and rattles. I go for the more earthbound symbolic statements. So my ideas aren’t the most conventional. I made a baby wreath incorporating the four elements: Fire, Earth, Air and Water. The idea was to welcome the new child into her earthy home by introducing her to the elements as a blessing. Earth was represented by a mossy wreath. I strung lights in the wreath to represent fire. I hot glued soft white feathers (fake of course) in the wreath to represent air. And for water, I put a small bottle of holy water in a silk pouch and nestled it in the wreath. Practical? Maybe not. But really symbolic.
Old Norse, Polish and Germanic people made wreaths for new unions. These were often made of highly meaningful flowers like: Heather – symbolic of purity, devotion, protection and romance. Meadowsweet – an ancient symbol for new brides, meanings of sweetness, hope and promise. Broom flower – symbolic of innocence, fondness and humility. Wedding wreaths were all the rage in the Victorian era. These too were adorned with flowers…each flower held a unique meaning for the bride and groom. My flower meaning pages are all over the place on the website, but this might be a good start, if you’re interested: Symbolic Flower Meanings. If you don’t see what you’re looking for there, try a search for your bloom of choice.
Housewarming Wreath Meaning:
I’m not sure there’s a more eloquent way to express a blessing over a new home than giving a housewarming wreath. Why? Well, they’re classy and cool looking for one. Another reason harkens back to old European earth-worship. Huh? Yeah. Nature spiritualists used to encircle a new home as a blessing. In essence, the circle was imbued with a protective force field. Sometimes the circle was made with salt. I’ve read accounts where the protective perimeter might be made of flower petals too. The idea goes back to what I mentioned earlier in the post; the circle represents inclusion. It encloses that which is sacred. Utilized with proper attitude and intent, the circle blesses, unites and insures harmony. A housewarming wreath is a miniature version of this house-circling idea. Just as effective, and quite pretty too! Some ideas for sacred, symbolic materials for a housewarming wreath include: White sage – symbolic of blessing, consecration and cleansing. Gardenias – symbolic of love, refinement and purity. Rose geranium – symbolic of pleasure, good memories and comfort (if you can’t find the flower, dab rose geranium oil on the wreath). Horseshoe – symbolic of protection and strength (mount the shoe open side up so it’ll catch all the good juju!). Keys – Three keys mounted on the wreath together are symbolic of unlocking the doors of 1) wealth, 2) health, 3) love. The ancient Greeks used one key as a symbol for knowledge and living life wisely.
Parting Thoughts on Symbolic Wreath Meaning
I told you wreaths were SO much more than they appear! Who knew!? Now we all know. Wreaths far exceed the surface value of paltry decoration. That circular symbolism bound by highly meaningful materials proffer a big ‘kapowie’ of profound expression.
I hope this article on wreath meaning inspires you to scavenge about in Nature for twigs and pine cones, get out your hot glue gun, and start a’wreathing!
If this article got your creative juices flowing, please check out the related links at the end of this page for more symbolic goodies.
As always, thanks for reading!
May all your wreaths be meaningful and beautiful,