The humble Christmas wreath has come from a fairly tradition starting point. Christians were not the first people to utilise the wreath in their celebrations. Christmas wreath history (as it applies the Christmas wreath we now know today) is quite diverse actually takes a lot of its cues from cultures who have not been particularly kind to Christianity in the past. Wreaths and what they are made of actually have a fairly mixed heritage that stem from pagan ritual, Roman festivities and symbolism as well as a broad range of other cultural proclivities. The wreath that is commonly used to celebrate Christmas is known as the advent wreath. The advent wreath borrows heavily from other cultures. The advent wreath was originally used in Germanic rituals that involved a large fire and the spreading of the advent wreath around to symbolise the extra light that is found in the days as they are melded into spring from winter.
Because the Germanic people were quick to adopt the Christian religion (in various denominations) the advent wreath was used to in Christian celebrations as well. Because it was just a matter of going from one God to another, the wreath was interchangeable with the specific worship of any particular God – as God is the giver of the seasons, life and harvest. The advent wreath was also used to hold a variety of candles – typically red or white. The candles were lit one at a time during the Christmas season in order to usher in the different days during the Christmas celebrations. A short prayer ceremony was held as each candle was lit and it made for a fairly intricate way in which to pay homage to the birth of Jesus Christ.
The wreath was a household decoration for the most part. With Christmas trees being used in a public space, the advent wreath was the decoration for the home. This changed over the years and we now have the customs that we are now familiar with. It seems we are packing as much decoration into our homes as we can. Christmas wreath history (the advent wreath in particular) is fairly simple in this regard. We have managed to overcomplicate the decorative process over the year as we have become wealthier as individuals. We have also wanted to contain our celebrations to the family unit – this is why we see such extravagant decorations that were predominantly public in the family home in modern times.