Here's What a Wreath Symbolizes at Christmas

Wreaths are more than a seasonal door decoration. From the shape to the materials, each part of your Christmas wreath has meaningful symbolism.

Updated October 27, 2023
Christmas Wreath Hanging on Red Barn Door

Every year, I hang a wreath by my front door during the holidays. It adds warmth, charm, and just a touch of holiday je ne sais quoi that makes me smile every time I come and go from my house. But I never really gave a thought about what wreaths symbolize, because they're such a common site at Christmas. 

It turns out that pretty seasonal decoration you hang by your front door is rife with symbolism. From its circular shape to the materials it contains, your holiday wreath broadcasts messages about hope, joy, and love. 

Christmas Wreath Meaning and Symbolism

Each part of the Christmas wreath has a meaning in keeping with the season, from the shape to the materials to each of the decorations woven between the pine needles. 

Circle Wreath Symbolism

Traditional Christmas wreaths are in the form of a circle. Like a wedding band, you'll find that this circle has a bunch of meanings, both to Christians and non-Christians alike.

  • The eternal presence of God, with no beginning and no end
  • The cycle of the seasons, from spring to winter and eventually to spring again
  • The hope of life renewing itself
  • The hope of eternal life through Christ, the Savior
  • The unending love of God

Meanings of Wreath Materials

Early wreaths, such as those from ancient Rome and Greece, were made out of several evergreen materials. These evergreens generally represent continuity and survival through difficult times. Each evergreen also has a meaning.

  • Holly represents the crown of thorns that Jesus wore at the Crucifixion, so a holly wreath symbolizes eternal life
  • Pine and yew symbolize eternal life
  • Cedar stands for healing
  • Laurel represents the conquest over pain and suffering
  • Pine cones, seeds, and nuts are symbols of birth and rebirth

Symbolism of Colors in Wreaths

Christmas wreaths are traditionally green and red, holiday colors that have symbolic meaning. Green represents life and growth. For Christians, it stands for the eternal life of the soul. Red signifies the blood Christ shed on the cross. Together, they symbolize the promise of eternal life.

What Nuts & Fruits in Wreaths Mean

In the tradition of celebrating the fall harvest, many front door evergreen wreaths were decorated with nuts and fruits from the last harvest. The wreaths were hung on front doors to serve as a protection charm. Because of this, many homes were adorned year-round. So, when you have walnuts, berries, and other food items in your Christmas wreath, you're joining in the ancient practice of seeking protection.

Advent Wreath Meaning

This special type of Advent seasonal decoration is full of symbolism. The Advent wreath was adapted from the Germanic custom of the tabletop wreath. Since then, it has become a popular custom in several Christian denominations. After originating with the Lutheran church, it was soon adopted by the Catholic, Episcopal, and Anglican churches.

Candle Colors of Advent Wreaths

All five candles lit on an advent wreath

Many families use an Advent wreath as part of their celebration. Advent wreaths usually consist of an evergreen circle and three purple candles, one rose candle, and one white candle in the center of the wreath.

  • Purple advent wreath candles symbolize reverence and prayer.
  • The pink candle represents joys.
  • The white candle represents the purity of Christ and the Virgin Birth.

What It Means to Hang a Wreath on the Door

Porch with wooden doors and a threshold with Christmas decor

And now we come to my customary wreath-hanging practice and what it symbolizes when you hang a wreath on the door.

Turns out, I'm not that original. People have been hanging wreaths on the front door since ancient times. Across time, wreaths hung on doors have represented love and devotion, the harvest, preparation for winter, and protection. 

Origins and Meaning of the Christmas Wreath

When you hang a Christmas wreath on your front door, it's way more than just a pretty holiday decoration (although it can be only that if you want it to). It's steeped in symbolism, representing eternal life, protection, and love  — just like the holiday itself. 

Here's What a Wreath Symbolizes at Christmas