A wreath is an assortment of flowers, leaves, fruits, twigs, or various materials that is constructed to form a ring.
In English-speaking countries, wreaths are used typically as household ornaments, most commonly as an Advent and Christmas decoration. They are also used in ceremonial events in many cultures around the globe. They can be worn as a chaplet around the head, or as a garland around the neck. Wreaths have much history and symbolism associated with them.
They are usually made from evergreens and symbolize strength, as evergreens last even throughout the harshest winters. Bay laurel may also be used; bay laurel wreaths are known as laurel wreaths.
In the Western world, rolls of brightly colored paper with secular or religious Christmas/winter/Hanukkah motifs are manufactured for the purpose of giftwrapping presents. The display of Christmas villages has also become a tradition in many homes during this season. Other traditional decorations include bells, reindeer, candles, candy canes, garland, stockings, wreaths, snow globes, and angels. Snow sheets are made specifically for simulating snow under a tree or village.
In many countries a representation of the Nativity scene is very popular, and people are encouraged to compete and create the most original or realistic ones. Within some families, the pieces used to make the representation are considered a valuable family heirloom. Some churches also perform a live Nativity with volunteers and even live animals.
One of the most popular items of Christmas decorations are stockings. According to legend, Saint Nicolas would creep in through the chimney and slip gold into stockings hanging by the fireplace. Various forms of stockings are available; from simple velvet ones, to sock-shaped bags to animated ones.
The Advent wreath, or Advent crown, is a Christian tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western church. It is traditionally a Lutheran practice, although it has spread to many other Christian denominations.
It is an evergreen wreath with four candles, sometimes with a fifth, white candle in the center. Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, the lighting of a candle can be accompanied by a Bible reading, devotional time and prayers. An additional candle is lit on each subsequent Sunday until, by the last Sunday of Advent, all four candles are lit. Some Advent wreaths include a fifth, Christ candle which is lit at Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The custom originated in family settings but has also become widespread in public worship.
Advent wreaths are circular, representing God's infinite love, and are usually made of evergreen leaves, which "represent the hope of eternal life brought by Jesus Christ". Within the Advent wreath are candles that generally represent the four weeks of the Advent season as well as "the light of God coming into the world through the birth of Jesus Christ" although each of the candles can be attributed its own significance as well; in one version of such interpretation, the candles specifically symbolize the Christian concepts of hope (week one), peace (week two), joy (week three) and love (week four). Many Advent wreaths also have a white candle in the centre to symbolize the arrival of Christmastide, sometimes known as the "Christ candle." It is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The Christ candle is coloured white because this is the traditional festal colour in the Western Church. Another interpretation states that the first candle is the Messiah or Prophecy candle (representing the prophets who predicted the coming of Jesus), the second is the Bethlehem candle (representing the journey of Joseph and Mary), the third represents the shepherds and their joy, and the fourth is the Angel's candle, representing peace.
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