Photography: J. Barclay
Most homes are beautifully decorated for the holidays by now but some are catching up with the fun or saving the decorating for Christmas Eve. There are so many traditions people have as far as this goes and some decorating spawns out of whatever there is time for or whatever is handy and not much deeper thought than that! Historically, bringing greenery inside homes was symbolism for the celebration of the winter harvest and the hope for the return of spring. The idea of forming scrap greenery into garlands and wreaths was born from the idea that nothing goes to waste but over time, they got fancier and became a variety of expressions of festive cheer.
It’s arguably one of the oldest traditions to use greenery throughout the home as decoration and it often is not even associated with any particular holiday but merely the winter season. Wreaths and their never-ending circular form, are a general symbol in many societies of eternity which is why they are also used at funerals, weddings and other ceremonies and appear both indoors and outdoors year-round.
Holiday wreaths and whether they are simply hung with a ribbon or heavily decorated are traditions from all over the world and have evolved here in the US from Old English, Colonial, mid-century to current modern tastes with a little whimsy, some uniqueness as well as honoring the past.
Placement of wreaths can be anywhere – and this year I added a small wreath to an entry-way mirror in my home. I’ve seen wreaths on mirrors many times before and I think it’s because it is an instant frame for the greenery but since I had an extra wreath and hung it on this mirror, I thought about a possible deeper meaning. On doors, they are clear welcoming decorations to passers-by and visitors. On mantels they showcase the season in a warm, gathering place. On a table, they may surround a candle or have symbolic advent candles around them. But on a mirror – any mirror, what could that mean? It could just be a showcase – a picture frame of winter cheer. Or, how about the wreath could be a reminder that the season is not just about the person you see in the mirror?
I love to create my own traditions and there are many I’ve started over the years. I bake the same favorite cookies in my household, we’ve had the same stockings for many years, my son’s art from when he was very little adorns our trees, we bring home a fresh tree to enjoy in December (and a little bit into January), and we now will place greenery on mirrors. Enjoy your traditions, both old and new and enjoy giving them your own special meaning or not! Sometimes our decorations end up where they belong just because it feels right. Cheers to that!