We all know that Christmas is a time to acknowledge the birth of Jesus, and we all know that Jesus taught about the eternal nature of life.
However, we place many decorations in our homes and offices and think they are simply happy reminders of the Christmas season. What you may not realize is that most, if not all of these decorations have deeply mystical and symbolic roots, all of which relate to the message of eternal life.
HOLLY WREATH: The circle or ring shape is symbolic of eternal life, because a circle has no beginning or end. The ancient Druids are the first society in known history to have worn sprigs of holly and mistletoe. They believed holly, with its glossy, shiny prickly leaves of green adorned with red berries, remained green all year due to their magical properties. The Druids considered Holly sacred. Many speculate the holly berries have given us our green and red colors of Christmas.
Combining the symbolism of the wreath with the believed magical powers of Holly, the Romans exchanged Holly Wreaths as gifts. Once Christianity took hold inRome, Holly Wreaths became Christmas Wreaths as part of popular holiday decorations.
In the 16th century, the word “Holly” appeared in writing for the first time, used by Shakespeare. By the 17th century, holly had become a grander part of Christmas celebrations, the Christmas Wreath, and holiday decorations once again. The shape of the wreath symbolized the crown of thorns put atop the head of Jesus Christ, as well as the resurrection and eternal life. The red berries symbolized the blood of Christ. Holly and Christmas Wreaths came to stand for peace, joy, and contentment.
To add color to Christmas Wreaths, colonists used pomegranates and other colorful fruits. Pomegranates, in particular, indicated wealth. The colonists celebrated the Christmas season for 12 consecutive days (this is where we get the “12 Days of Christmas”). At the end of the 12th day, on January 5th, the homeowners took down their Christmas Wreaths and other holiday decorations. They removed the fruit and added them to the holiday feast, enjoying the bounty of summer in the heart of winter.