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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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


A decorative element in the form of a garland or band of foliage; often intertwined with flowers, fruits, and ribbons.
See also: Ornament
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


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.
Encyclopedia of Christmas and New Year's Celebrations, 2nd ed. © Omnigraphics, Inc. 2003


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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Grandin Road's Haley wreath is a spirited mix of fluffy, white, faux-hydrangea puffballs, accented with lifelike greenery and vines.
"I complained to the reception because it didn't even look like a Christmas wreath. I couldn't believe that someone had done this."
A Cheshire pensioner who has been hand-making Christmas wreaths for more than 50 years was left heartbroken when callous thieves took two of them from his home.
For more information about Wreaths Across America, or to learn how to sponsor a wreath, visit wreathsacrossamerica.org.
The Christmas wreath transfigures a front door the way fire does night; it celebrates the love, the goodness, the joy of the season.
Marking the day, President M Abdul Hamid will place a wreath at the Martyred Intellectuals Memorial at Mirpur at 7:05 am while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will place wreath at 7:06 am.
IF YOU want to go chic on the Christmas wreath front this year, consider succulents - they'll last through the festive season and may even transfer to your garden later on.
Wreaths of flowers will be placed on the tombs of independence men: 10:30 am Caretaker Minister of Justice Salim Jreissati will lay a wreath on the tomb of Prime Minister Riad al-Solh in Ouzai.
A photo reference of a star with complete lines will be helpful the first time you make a star-shaped wreath, so you can see the angles and the way the lines (sticks) cross each other.
He laid a floral wreath at the grave and also offered Fateha.
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, lays a wreath during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London yesterday.
1m satin ribbon 1 Spray the wreath with the black paint and leave to dry.