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Christmas Living Wreath Workshop

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Christmas Living Wreath Workshop

Create your own living wreath for Christmas using succulents with expert tuition from Salamander Village Florist.

The symbolism of wreaths dates back before the time of Christianity with Pagan traditions, where evergreen circles consisting of four candles representing the elements of Earth, wind, fire, and water, were used in rituals that would ensure the continuance of the circle of life.

The wreath and candles are full of symbolism tied to the Christmas season. The wreath itself, which is made of various evergreens, signifies continuous life. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life we find in Christ.

The custom of bringing evergreens home during the winter began in the 16th century among northern and eastern Europeans — with Germans commonly credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition. During this period, pruning the tree was a part of the preparation process. “Limbs were often cut off in an attempt to make the tree more uniform in shape or to fit into a room,” Collins writes in his book, ‘Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas’. Instead of throwing the pieces of greenery away, the Europeans wove the excess into wreaths.

“These people were living in a time when everything in their lives was used until it was gone,” Collins.

Christmas wreaths brought a new layer of meaning to the old idea. Such wreaths originally served as Christmas tree ornaments, and not as the standalone decorations we’re familiar with today. They were formed into a wheel-like shape partially for convenience’s sake — it was simple to hang a circle onto the branches of a tree — but the shape was also significant as a representation of divine perfection. It symbolized eternity, as the shape has no end.

Equally important was the material forming the wreaths — the evergreen tree. Evergreen trees were a species looked upon with awe and admiration, since they, unlike most living things, survived the harshness of winter. The trees appeared in abundance in northern and eastern Europe, and people brought them into their homes. “That was a symbol to them of power, of resilience, and in a way, of hope,” Collins says.

Together, the circular shape and the evergreen material make the wreath a representation of eternal life. It is also a representation of faith, as Christians in Europe often placed a candle on the wreath during Advent to symbolize the light that Jesus brought into the world.

The tradition of the Advent wreath, along with many other Christmas traditions from northern and eastern Europe, was adopted by the masses beginning in the 19th century. Collins says that the marriage of Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom, to Prince Albert from Germany opened the door for Christmas traditions of other regions in Europe to become popular in England. In turn, British culture influenced American culture.

Despite its widespread popularity today, the wreath started with humble beginnings. “We live in a throwaway culture,” says Collins. “The wreath was born out of not throwing things away.”

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