Wreaths have been around a long time and were used in ancient Greece in harvest rituals. In ancient Rome the wreath was a sign of victory. They were also used by pre-Christian Germanic people who would gather wreaths of evergreen and light fires to remind them of the hope of the approaching light of spring.
By the 16th century, Christians were using the wreath to celebrate Advent and their hope in Christ, the everlasting light. The traditional Advent wreath has four candles nestled in a circle of evergreens with another candle in the middle. They are lit each week of December leading up to Christmas, lighting the inside candle on Christmas Eve.
But for the last century, "wreath" has come to mean a ring of evergreens with a big red ribbon hung on the front door at Christmastime. Swags of greenery are also traditional.
Although a lot of readymade wreaths are available for sale, it's easy and fun to create a unique one for your front door. Visit a hobby shop for inspiration and raw materials. You can buy a basic circle and decorate it with almost anything -- ribbons, tree ornaments, greenery from your own garden, cutout snowflakes, pinecones, corks or candy canes. The list is endless.
Artificial greenery gets more realistic looking each year as do pine sprays to provide the aroma. Don't forget to put a big bow on the wreath as the finishing touch. The color -- whether red, white or gold -- can pull it all together.
You can't go wrong with an old-fashioned evergreen wreath. The only problem is, they may not stay fresh throughout the entire season. Add a few pinecones and a big red bow and visitors will enter into the spirit of the season even as they approach your home.