Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The history of the Christmas wreath

So, most of us hang Christmas wreaths on our doors.
Does anyone know why we hang a wreath, other than the fact that it
makes the entrance to our home a bit more warm and welcoming?
I wanted to know, so I did a little research, and here is what I found out.
The history of the Christmas wreath is a long one, with its roots going all the way back to the 15th century. This is the time that it became popular to hang wreaths up, rather than setting them on a table or on someone’s head.
The most well known Christmas wreath of today is the Advent wreath, which symbolizes the preparation for the coming of Christ in the Christian community.
It was in the middle ages that Christians began using this type of Christmas wreath as a way to prepare for the holy holiday that was ahead. Catholics and Lutherans were the first to adopt formal rituals for using this wreath by the year 1600. The Advent Christmas wreath is traditionally made of evergreens to symbolize continuous life, and each variety of evergreen branches has a separate, more specific meaning as well. The fact that this Christmas wreath is a circle represents the unending qualities of God and the everlasting life that His son, Jesus Christ can offer those who choose to put their faith in Him. Any other items that are used to decorate the wreath, such as pine cones or seed pods are also symbols of life.
There are four candles on the Advent Christmas wreath, which are lit during the four weeks of the Advent season. Traditionally, there are three purple candles and one rose colored candle. The purple candles stand for prayer, penance and preparation, and the rose candle represents rejoicing. Each week before Christmas, another candle is lit, usually on Sunday and often before a meal if it is done in the home. The candle lighting is usually accompanied by the reading of scripture, a prayer, and sometimes singing. Some people will also place a white candle in the center to represent Christ, and this candle is often lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to remember his birthday. The light of the candles themselves also represent Christ, who came to this earth to be the “Light of the World.” The Advent Christmas wreath is a long-standing tradition that helps many people of faith to prepare for the significant time of the Christmas season.

Here is a picture of an Advent Christmas wreath.

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