The pagan history of the Christmas wreath

One of our favourite signs of Christmas dates back thousands of years, says Charlotte Tombs.

image by Charlotte Tombs

I am worse than a toddler at this time of year. Every time I return from a walk with the dogs my pockets are bulging with the myriad of autumnal treasures that I have found and foraged. There really is so much to be picked
up – you just have to open your eyes and take the time to really look around you to see the beauty that is out there: brightly coloured leaves; broken twigs with the most amazing lichen growing on them; pine and fir cones; dried grasses and teasels; catkins; berries; willow whips and so much more.
These autumn gifts are what makes a Christmas Wreath so special, combined with seed heads and dried flowers that I grow in the summer with wreath- making in mind.

image by Charlotte Tombs

Eternal life

A Christmas wreath with its circular shape and evergreen foliage is said to be a representation of eternal life, and of faith, as Christians in Europe would often place a candle on a wreath during Advent to symbolise the light that Jesus brought into the world. Wreaths are also used at funerals, again as a representation of the circle of eternal life.

Your own wreath

Lots of flower farmers will hold wreath workshops for you to learn to make your own. Do check out

www.flowersfromthefarm.co.uk to find your nearest, or enquire about one of mine www.northcombeflowers.co.uk

image by Charlotte Tombs

Pagan tradition

The word wreath comes from the old English word ‘writha’ whose literal meaning is ‘that which is round’.

Wreaths are also connected with the pagan holiday of Yule, marking the winter solstice which was celebrated by ancient Germanic and Scandinavian people. This 12 day festival which was also called Mid Winter was held to honour the returning of the sun and the seasonal cycle, which alone is good enough for me.

Disclaimer: all wild plants are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is illegal to dig up or remove a plant including algae, lichens and fungi from the land on which it is growing without permission from the landowner or occupier. For more information please see www.woodlandtrust.org.uk

Charlotte Tombs, an experienced Dorset flower farmer at Northcombe Flowers in Sturminster Marshall,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.