Pine cones, ponsettia, Christmas roses, Nordic spruce, cinnamon, oranges, stars, and spice, these are a few of my favourite things (and just a small selection of the ingredients which can be added to a Christmas wreath).
After my holiday in November, and a really interesting visit to Flora Holland (the Dutch flower auction house) it’s been a busy month leading up to Christmas, and as you might expect, I’ve been mostly making Christmas rings (or wreaths) for local customers to adorn their front doors for the festive season. Just a short trip wandering around your local town and you’ll see such a huge variety of these traditional ‘welcome’ rings decorating most front doors in the neighbourhood: some shop-bought, of course, some home-made – and there are some excellent home-crafted examples out there – and others with that extra special something, no doubt deftly assembled by a skilful artisan florist…
I’m still taking orders, by the way, until Wednesday 21st December 🙂
I love it when my customers give me free reign to incorporate unusual plant materials and make the most of my creativity. This season, so far, I’ve been able to include many things, from the traditional, like apple rings, limes, acorns, star anise, holly, berries, to the more unusual, like dewy spider-web strands or shiny buttons to add a pop of colour.
The traditional designs have been especially popular this year, so it’s worth pondering what it all means. The word ‘wreath’ stems from the Middle English word “wrethe” meaning a twisted band or a garland of leaves or flowers, so, like most of our modern Christmas traditions, the Christmas ring is a ‘weaving together’ of ideas and traditions from pagan, Roman, and modern Christian times.
In the pagan tradition, these winter decorations brought natural living evergreen materials into the home at a bleak time of year to show the promise of spring to come. Historians report that the Romans gave each other holly wreaths as gifts, and British Romans often displayed them on doors as a sign of status or victory. By Christian times, weaving evergreens together comes to represent eternal growth and the everlasting circle of life brought through the birth of Jesus, and the circular shape signifies God, a being without beginning or end.
Put it all together and you have a tradition which goes back centuries, one which blends past cultures and diverse religious ideas into one symbolic design. How better to sum up the spirit of Christmas than to pin to your front door a decoration which smells lovely, looks pretty, and remains as charming and popular as ever today?
On which note, I must get back to making some more – and sign off until the New Year. Meanwhile, I would like to wish all my customers and friends,
‘Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!’