The first sign of Christmas is the hanging Christmas wreath from the front door of the house. Wreath is an arrangement of flowers, leaves, fruits and few other presentable materials assembled to appear like a ring. Available in different shapes, wreaths serves as an important part of Christmas decorations. The common places to hang wreaths are on the doors, walls and over fireplaces. Traditionally evergreen branches are used in making wreaths.
However, these days, wreaths are also available in synthetic materials which have much longer shelf life. People take a lot of pain to make their wreaths look different from those of the other people. However, most of them have never bothered to find out the history and origin of the Christmas wreath.
The origin of the Christmas wreath dates back to the ancient times of the Persian Empire. During that time, wreaths were believed to be a symbol of importance as well as success. They were much smaller in size than the present ones and were known as 'diadems'.
Only the royal and upper class members of the society used to wear the wreaths as headbands, sometimes along with jewels. It is believed that other cultures became fascinated with this tradition of wearing wreaths and adopted them into their respective cultures. Somewhere around 776 BC, Greeks started placing wreaths made of laurel on the heads of the athletes who came first in the Olympic Games.
Very soon, important military and political leaders of Roman Empire started wearing wreaths. One popular example from ancient Rome is Julius Caesar, who used to wear wreath on his head, just like the crown of a king.
The transition of the wreaths from a headgear to a wall/door decoration is not known with much accuracy.
However, it is believed that once an athlete decided to save the headgear as a souvenir of his/her victory, the wreath was hung on the wall and thus began the tradition of using wreaths as a Christmas door/wall decoration.
The tradition of using evergreen branches as a material in wreaths is influenced by the Egyptian, Chinese and Hebrew cultures who believed that evergreen branches are a symbol of eternal life. The evergreens keep their color throughout the year, thus adding credence to this belief.
After the birth of Jesus Christ, the Advent wreath became a popular Christmas tradition. With the passage of time, the custom of Christmas wreath became an important tradition widely followed by people from different parts of the world.