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1. a band of flowers or foliage intertwined into a ring, usually placed on a grave as a memorial or worn on the head as a garland or a mark of honour
2. a spiral or circular defect appearing in porcelain and glassware


A decorative element in the form of a garland or band of foliage; often intertwined with flowers, fruits, and ribbons.
See also: Ornament


Americans recognize the evergreen wreath as a Christmas symbol. Many people hang them on their front doors at Christmas time or display them in other parts of the house. No one seems to know the exact history of this custom. Some speculate that the front door wreath evolved out of the older, German Advent wreath. Others suppose it to be an old Irish custom.

The English word "wreath" comes from the old Anglo-Saxon verb writhan, meaning "to writhe" or "to twist." Indeed, Christmas wreaths are made by bending or twisting branches of greenery into a circular shape.

Wreaths have served as powerful symbols for millennia. In ancient Greece and Rome wreaths of greenery worn as crowns sat on the brows of those believed to have won divine favor. Thus, wreaths adorned the heads of sacrificial animals, winners of athletic and artistic competitions, participants in religious festivals, and kings. The type of greenery used to make the wreath also sent a message. Winners of athletic and literary contests donned wreaths of laurel. Wreaths of ivy circled the brows of those honoring the wine god, Dionysus or Bacchus. Those whose achievements brought about military victories or peace wore wreaths of olive. The Bible also makes frequent mention of wreaths, usually associating them with joy, triumph, and honor. As Christianity developed its own symbolic code, it turned the laurel wreath into a sign of the attainment of salvation. In more general terms, the wreath represents the same thing as the circle, often interpreted as a symbol of eternity.

Further Reading

Becker, Udo, ed. "Wreath." In his The Continuum Encyclopedia of Symbols. New York: Continuum, 1994. Palmer, Geoffrey, and Noel Lloyd. A Year of Festivals. London, England: Frederick Warne, 1972. Thompson, Sue Ellen, ed. Holiday Symbols. Detroit, Mich.: Omnigraphics, 1998. Webber, F. R. Church Symbolism. Second edition, revised. 1938. Reprint. Detroit, Mich.: Omnigraphics, 1992. Weiser, Francis X. The Christmas Book. 1952. Reprint. Detroit, Mich.: Omnigraphics, 1990.


1. The curved portion of the string or handrail which follows a turn in a geometrical stair, usually a quarter circle, and therefore corresponds to a portion of the surface of a vertical cylinder; also called a wreath piece.
2. A twisted band, garland, or chaplet, representing flowers, fruits, leaves, etc.; often used in decoration.
References in periodicals archive ?
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Asif Ali Zardari and others also laid floral wreath at the grave of founder Chairman of PPP and Former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, former Chairperson of PPP and First Lady Begum Nusrat Bhutto,late Shireen Amir Begum, the first wife of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and laid floral wreaths at their grave.
A huge number of volunteers are placing wreaths on tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Cenotaph ceremony normally involves the Queen leading the country in remembering those who have died in world wars and other conflicts, so Charles' role in laying the wreath was a significant moment.
Baroness Pinnock, who has attended the Spenborough Memorial Parade and Service for 30 years as a Kirklees councillor, wanted to be able to lay a wreath in her position as a member of the House of Lords.
45am: Service and wreath laying ceremony at the war memorial at Smith's Dock Park on Saturday.
You will find this native greenery Mississippi wreath, accented with a special bow, on my front door every Christmas.
Rawalpindi -- Wreath laying ceremony was held to observe the shahadat day of Maj Raja Aziz Bhatti, NH at his grave in his home town Ladian on Monday morning.
President Higgins will be in the Stone Breakers' Yard in Kilmainham to lay a wreath on the site where the leaders were executed.
We have apologised for any upset we caused to the member of the public whose wreath we removed as part of this process and have offered to support them in maintaining the grave in the future.
Whether you're a huge NASCAR fan and think that the "Christmas Industrial Complex" is missing the chance to make a Dale Earnhardt wreath or you just want your very own "Wreath Witherspoon," look no further: Here is a step-by-step guide onAaAaAeAeAaAeAe to make your own one-of-a-kind decoration.
Give guests a warm welcome this Christmas with a festive wreath.