Christmastide is finally here, and I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! As your decorations were completed on Christmas Eve, either at midnight or 2am if you attended Midnight Mass, did you take the time to consider the meanings behind them? Before decorations became tradition, each decoration had special intentions to align the home to the decorations of the Church in celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord. In particular, weaths have a beautiful meaning and intention.
"But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end life everlasting. For the wages of sin is death. But the grace of God, life everlasting, in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 6:22-23
Early Romans used to hang wreaths, olive leaves and other garlands, on their doors and inside their homes as a sign of victory and other celebrations. Wreaths were also worn as headdresses by women for festivals and weddings and by commanding generals as they paraded with their legions through Rome in triumph from a foreign conquest.
Catholics quickly identified the correlation between the wreath and Christ's incarnation to defeat sin and lead us to salvation with eternal life. The evergreen tree, which maintains its green needles through the season, became a beautiful symbol for eternal life. An evergreen garland, once twisted into a wreath, would exemplify the meaning of eternal life by forming a circle.
The simple red bow, added to the wreath, symbolized the Sacred Blood that would be shed for the victory over sin, humanity's redemption, and eternal life. Some wreaths are also decorated with red berries to illustrate drops of His Sacred Blood.
There are hundred of symbols that can be used to decorate your home for the Christmas season. I highly encourage you to create new decorations, symbols, and traditions to help entwine your family with Christmas and His incarnation. All of these small symbols and traditions are extremely valuable for children to help understand and to grow in excitement. In fact, my kids love, and burst with joy, to help decorate, light advent candles, etc., which are all great times to integrate family praying and scriptural reading.
Whatever the special intentions of your Christmas decorations are, its important to have them as an offering to God and the redemption that He deigned to give us through the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.
As an attempt to remember the meaning of the wreath, the next time you see a Christmas wreath make a special intention to make the sign of the Cross and contemplate the gift of eternal life and the Sacred Blood that was shed to win it.
In Christ Crucified and the Most Victorious Heart of Jesus.