There are two different schools of thought when it comes to the history of the wreath.
The first notes that the wreath dates back to ancient Greece & Rome, where members of Greco-Roman society would hand-make ring-shaped “wreaths” using fresh tree leaves, twigs, small fruits & flowers. Worn as headdresses, these wreaths represented one’s occupation, rank, achievements, and status. (The Laurel wreath was most commonly used then.) Laurel wreaths were used to crown victors of the ancient Greco-Roman Olympic Games. (Wreath translated literally means, “a thing bound around,” from the Greek word Diadema.)
The second theory on the history of the wreath is common Christian lore and explains that the honored art of wreath-making began 1,000 years before the birth of Christ. Christians assembled “Advent wreaths” to symbolize the strength of life they showed by persevering through the harsh forces of winter. Today, still, the Christmas wreath is symbolic of Christian immortality, as the circle and sphere both represent immortality.
No matter which school of thought you subscribe to, live and dry wreaths have come a long way. Christmas wreaths remain symbolic to dedicated Christians and are popular among a diversity of people as Christmas decorations. They’re still made from sturdy evergreens and still hung to symbolize strength. The Advent wreath or Christmas wreath of the 21st century, however, is much more ‘spirited.’ Today you’ll see them in a cross-shape or a traditional ring-shape. Sometimes they’ll have doves or white ribbons for purity.