Many people place winter wreaths on their loved ones’ grave sites. These wreaths are often made of evergreen branches. Bits of holly, pine, pine cones, fir, and cedar represent the hope of the winter season. They also keep people connected to their loved ones and can be part of the holiday remembrance process.
Placing the wreath at either the ground burial site, a columbarium or niche can also become a family tradition that unites the generations across time.
According to some reports, evergreens have long been a special symbol in Native American, Germanic and Celtic cultures. For some it was a way to bring the outdoors (nature) inside as a reminder that after winter there will again be spring.
Here are some of the meanings people have given to various weather resistant materials of the winter wreaths which some say represents the circle of life:
- Holly: This is one of the most common holiday greens. Its bright red berries are festive in nature. It was believed that Druids wore wreaths of holly on their heads.
- Pine and Pinecones: This symbol represented good health and protection. Within the tightly closed pinecones are seeds for the future. This fruit is believed to nourish the body and the soul.
- Fir: The fir shares much of the same symbolism as the pine, with a few additions. Ancient pagans believed this sturdy tree was ideal for representing strength, friendship and immortality. The Celtics considered it to be one of the nine sacred woods.
It is interesting to note that legends about the firs include them as markers for important Celtic grave sites. In this way winter wreaths can became a symbol for souls who passed onto other worlds beyond death.