QUESTION: What do we know about wreaths, such as
Christmas wreaths? Are they of pagan origin?
Yes, they are of pagan origin.
Following are some excerpts from the Internet on the origin
by Patricia Bhatia
More than just a decorative touch for your wall or door,
wreaths have existed in various forms since the time of the
ancient Romans. Whether the wreath you hang is a crafter's
masterpiece or a homemade hand-me down, it has a long
tradition of meaning behind it. Wreaths are an eternal part
of the festive season.
In ancient Greece a coral wreath was awarded to victors in
sporting events. In the way that we now award gold medals,
the wreath was a sign of victory. It meant much the same to
the ancient Romans, a sign of victory over challengers.
Religiously, the advent wreath has a place in Catholic
tradition. This special wreath is created with four candles,
each a different color. One candle is lit each Friday of
Advent with a prayer. In this, the wreath represents the
coming if the Christmas celebration. Scandinavian wreaths
also feature candles. The candles light the winter night's
and are a sign of hope for the future light of spring. It
was believed the wreath and candles would encourage the god
of light to turn the world towards the sun once more.
The tradition of the wreath extends further back than the
beginnings of Christian tradition. Pagan rituals of
mid-winter often featured a wreath of evergreen with 4
candles. The candles were placed in each of the four
directions, representing the elements of earth, wind, water
and fire. Rituals were preformed to ensure the continuance
of the circle of life.
Much symbolism can be attributed to the Christmas wreath.
The shape of a circle has no beginning and no ending. This
may represent the eternal nature of a god's love, or the
circle of life. Evergreens are used to represent immortality
and the victory of life through darkness and challenge. The
fact that evergreens live through winter signifies the
strength of life.
The decorative value of wreaths is believed to have been
derived by ancient tradition. In the way that we use house
numbers today, wreaths featuring different floral
arrangements were used to identify different families and
Also attributing to the wreath lore is the Roman use of
wreaths as signs of victory. It is believed that victors of
battles would hang wreaths upon their doors to advertise
Clearly wreaths are of pagan origin, have pagan and worldly
meanings and are not Biblically indicated as something we
should practice using.
Wreaths The wreaths were created in the same way the
Christmas trees were created. For some it symbolizes the
strength of life overcoming the forces of winter. Back in
ancient Rome, people used decorative wreaths as a sign of
victory. Some believe that this is where the hanging of
wreaths on doors came from. Since these times, many wreaths
have been made. Some are made for crafts, others for purely
decoration, and yet others have more deeper meanings. Below
are a couple examples.
The origins of the Advent wreath are found in the folk
practices of the pre-Christian Germanic peoples who, during
the cold December darkness of Eastern Europe, gathered
wreaths of evergreen and lighted fires as signs of hope in a
coming spring and renewed light. Christians kept these
popular traditions alive, and by the 16th century Catholics
and Protestants throughout Germany used these symbols to
celebrate their Advent hope in Christ, the everlasting
Light. From Germany the use of the Advent wreath spread to
other parts of the Christian world. Traditionally, the
wreath is made of four candles in a circle of evergreens
with a fifth candle in the middle. Three candles are violet
and the fourth is rose, but four white candles or four
violet candles can also be used. Each day at home, the
candles are lighted, perhaps before the evening meal-- one
candle the first week, and then another each succeeding week
until December 25th. A short prayer may accompany the
lighting of each candle. The last candle is the middle
candle. The lighting of this candle takes place on Christmas
Eve. It represents Jesus Christ being born.
The Christmas wreath, like the evergreens used as Christmas
trees, symbolizes the strength of life overcoming the forces
of winter. In ancient Rome, people used decorative wreaths
as a sign of victory and celebration. The custom of hanging
a Christmas wreath on the front door of the home probably
came from this practice.
The modern custom of hanging laurel wreaths on the outside
of doors as a friendly greeting to our fellowmen comes from
an old Roman practice. The wreath was their symbol of
victory, glory, joy, and celebration. The Christmas wreath
did not come to America from the continent of Europe, since
it was hardly used there in past centuries (except
in the form of the Advent wreath). It seems to
have been introduced here by the Irish immigrants and
gradually became part of the American Christmas scene.
It is easy to conclude that the use of wreaths is of pagan
origin and should not be used by Christians.