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.
Meaning of Christmas Wreaths and Winter Wreaths:
These wreaths are commonly made from the lovely stuff of evergreens, like: Holly, pine, pinecones, 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:
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...
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...
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...
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,
An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings
Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.
This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."
Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)
As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!