It is Holiday Time, Therefore It is Wreath Time!

It is Holiday Time, Therefore It is Wreath Time!

  Wreaths!  Its getting that time of year again, and we are hard at work creating "THINGS....." (or crafts if you like).  Dead giveaways are that retail is hiring like there's no tomorrow!  Whether it is Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanuka or just plain 'Happy Holidays', there seem to be a certain 'air' about the city that  "THAT" time of year is just round the corner. With the advent of A-I and Robotics, do you think we'll be celebrating 'Robotica' in the near future as well? Wouldn't surprise me at all!  [Another holiday!! Yay!!!] Whilst slogging over the makings of a hot wreath, I started wondering how or why wreaths ever came into being?  My Sister -in-law Jackie, is an awesome  crafter, and I stand 'gob-smacked' at esp. her wreath creations.  Needless to say she 'Shines' at all crafts and is one of the most talented people I know.  However, this does not answer my question regarding the origin of wreaths. According to an old ProFlowers writ we find the following:- "There are two different schools of thought when it comes to the history of the wreath.

First Theory.

The first notes that the wreath dates back to ancient Greece & Rome, where members of Greco-Roman society would hand-make ring-shaped “wreaths” using fresh tree leaves, twigs, small fruits & flowers. Worn as headdresses, these wreaths represented one’s occupation, rank, achievements and status. (The Laurel wreath was most commonly used then.) Laurel wreaths were used to crown victors of the ancient Greco-Roman Olympic Games. (Wreath translated literally means, “a thing bound around,” from the Greek word diadema.)

Second Theory.

The second theory on the history of the wreath is a common Christian lore, and explains that the honored art of wreath-making began 1,000 years before the birth of Christ. Christians assembled “Advent wreaths” to symbolize the strength of life they showed by persevering through the harsh forces of winter. Today, still, the Christmas wreath is symbolic of Christian immortality, as the circle and sphere both represent immortality.


No matter which school of thought you subscribe to, live and dry wreaths have come a long way. Christmas wreaths remain symbolic to dedicated Christians and are popular among a diversity of people as Christmas decorations.  They’re still made from sturdy evergreens and still hung to symbolize strength. The Advent wreath or Christmas wreath of the 21st century, however, is much more ‘spirited.’ Today you’ll see them in a cross-shape or a traditional ring-shape. Sometimes they’ll have doves or white ribbons for purity."   Patricia Bhatia   answered the wreath question in her article:- "Wreaths," as follows:- "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.

Ancient Greece.

In ancient Greece a Laurel 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.  

Decorative Value.

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 houses. 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 their status."             So there we have it. As I see it however, what ever the occasion, celebrate happily with a great looking wreath adorning your front door or lounge or where - ever!


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Always loved history, because it actually tells us where we've been and what we'll end up as,- unless we take care and maybe alter course before we "hit the iceberg"? To me, one of the most inspirational figures was Helen Adams Keller:-  American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree.  Amazing! Helen was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. In 1882, she was stricken by an illness that left her blind and deaf. Beginning in 1887, Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, helped her make tremendous progress with her ability to communicate, and Keller went on to college, graduating in 1904. In 1920, Keller helped found the ACLU. During her lifetime, she received many honors in recognition of her accomplishments. Reading about her amazing accomplishments against all odds, inspired me to design and launch the digital download site "Hand Talk Designs", to maybe help fill a need in the deaf community who are actually very "silent" about their wants and needs. We are very proud of the content of this site, and hope you'll pay it a visit soon to browse the wonderful array of downloadable cards as well as additional graphics. So hope to see you at soon!
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Nannie Helen Burroughs

Black and white photo of a young Nannie Helen Burroughs wearing a dark hat.
A young Nannie Helen Burroughs.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Quick Facts

Significance:Educator and activist
Place of Birth:Orange, VA
Date of Birth:1879/1880
Place of Death:Washington, DC
Date of Death:1961

Around 1880, Nannie Helen Burroughs was born to a formerly enslaved couple living in Orange, Virginia. Her father died when she was young, and she and her mother relocated to Washington, DC. Burroughs excelled in school and graduated with honors from M Street High School (now Paul Laurence Dunbar High School). Despite her academic achievements, Burroughs was turned down for a Washington D.C. public school teaching position. Some historians speculate that the elite black community discriminated against Burroughs because she had darker skin. Undeterred, Burroughs decided to open her own school to educate and train poor, working African American women.

Burroughs proposed her school initiative to the National Baptist Convention (NBC). In response, the organization purchased six acres of land in Northeast Washington, D.C. Now Burroughs needed money to construct the school. She did not, however, have unanimous support. Civil rights leader Booker T. Washington did not believe African Americans would donate money to found the school. But Burroughs did not want to rely on money from wealthy white donors. Relying on small denotations from black women and children from the community, Burroughs managed to raise enough money to open the National Training School for Women and Girls. Even though some people disagreed with teaching women skills other than domestic work, the school was popular in the first half of the 20th century. The school originally operated out of a small farm house. In 1928, a larger building named Trades Hall was constructed. The hall housed twelve classrooms, three offices, an assembly area and a print shop. In addition to founding the National Training School for Women and Girls, Burroughs also advocated for greater civil rights for African Americans and women. At the time, black women had few career choices. Many did domestic work like cooking and cleaning. Burroughs believed women should have the opportunity to receive an education and job training. She wrote about the need for black and white women to work together to achieve the right to vote. She believed suffrage for African American women was crucial to protect their interests in an often discriminatory society. Burroughs died in May 1961. She never married and she devoted her life to the education of black women. In 1964, the school was renamed the Nannie Helen Burroughs School in her honor. Burroughs defied societal restrictions placed on her gender and race and her work foreshadowed the main principles of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The Trades Hall, now a National Historic Landmark, is the last physical legacy of her lifelong pursuit for worldwide racial and gender equality. Sources: Fitzpatrick, Sandra & Maria R. Goodwin. The Guide to Black Washington: Places and Events of Historical and Cultural Significance in the Nation's Capital. New York: Hippocrene Books, 2001. Harley, Sharon. "Nannie Helen Burroughs: 'The Black Goddess of Liberty.'" The Journal of Negro History 81, No. 1 (1996): 62-71. Taylor, Traki L. “'Womanhood Glorified': Nannie Helen Burroughs and the National Training School for Women and Girls, Inc., 1909-1961,” The Journal of African American History 87 (2002): 390-402.
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