23 May

Wreathed in history

Wreaths evolved in parallel around the world: olive wreaths were prizes at the original Olympics;[1] the Romans used laurel wreaths as crowns;[2] the Polish celebrated harvest with wreaths of grain;[3] the English decorated maypoles with wreaths of flowers; Tahitian women wear floral wreaths to their weddings.[4]

Christmas wreaths began as rings of greenery (but now can be circles of plastic) and are typically hung on front doors as a welcoming decoration. (Also see advent wreaths on 9 May.)

So, you can see wreaths as:

  • Christian
  • Pagan
  • A bit of everything
  • So confused that you have to ignore a lot of their history and might as well ignore all of it and hence treat them as non-religious

Choose whichever suits your worldview best.

23 may 2016.jpg
Nothing says “Yes, we do Christmas!” like a door wreath.

[1] But wouldn’t have lasted as long as medals, thus reducing athletes’ opportunities to sell their prizes when down on their luck.

[2] Thus reducing kings’ opportunities of selling off the crown jewels when the treasury was bare.

[3] With stalks intact, of course. It would be hard to make a wreath from a handful of rye grains.

[4] Do they toss them like a bouquet at the end of the wedding? (And do they move like frisbees?)


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