Carrying on with our holiday decoration traditions next is Holiday Wreaths.
Wreaths are connected to the pagan holiday of Yule, which marks the winter solstice, which begins on the 22nd December and runs through until the 2nd January.
The wreaths used during Yule were meant to symbolise nature and the promise of the return of spring (and more importantly the sun which had descended to the lowest point in the sky).
They were made from evergreen plants such as Ivy & Holly and red berries and gave “colour” to a season devoid of colour after most leaves had fallen off the trees in Autumn.
Christianity used the symbol of wreaths to represent eternal life and the unending love of God. Dating back to around the 16th Century, wreaths being used during Yule were adopted by Christians and become a tradition known as Advent Wreaths.
Traditionally they were made from evergreens such as holly oak, ivy and red berries, with the prickly holly and the red berries representing the crown of thorns worn by Jesus (and the blood of Christ caused by the thorns).
Advent wreaths hold four candles (don’t go there!) the hope candle (purple), the Bethlehem candle representing love (purple again), the Shepherds candle (pink) representing joy and the angel candle (purple) which represents peace. These are lit one at a time from the first Sunday of advent to the last Sunday in advent.
This was greatly revered by the Druids as a healer and protector – it was carefully cut to ensure it never touched the ground.
It is also seen as a symbol of love and friendship in Norse mythology where the practice of kissing under the mistletoe could originate from.
During medieval times, people believed that mistletoe possessed mystical powers which would bring luck to families during December and ward off evil spirits.