The Wreath on the Door: Christmas Hygge through Christmas Hiraeth Day 1

Almost my first act on December 1st is to put my Christmas wreath on the front door. I have a special hook permanently in the door and, indeed, for the past ten years have had a wreath which alters according to the season on the door. I like having a wreath there. I like the symbolism.

When I was a child, I don’t remember ever having a wreath on the door. The closest we came was a rather scrawny bundle of evergreens, holly, ivy and a sprig of mistletoe over the porch. Nothing as spectacular as a Kissing ball, whether made of holly or spruce, but more than just a sprig of mistletoe tied with red ribbon. The wreath, at the time, seemed an absolutely American symbol and familiar from so many US TV shows and films.

Actually, wreaths pre-date the finding of America in the 15th Century and stretch way back into antiquity. The symbolism of the wreath seems to have stayed pretty constant since then: It’s a never ending circle, like life is. It symbolises the wheel of the year and the seasons rolling on whatever. It’s a sign of unending love, for each other and from God.

It tends to have evergreens in: pine, holly and yew represent eternal life, holly is seen as a symbol of Jesus (because of the crown of thorns) and laurel or bay represents victory. Laurel wreaths were often presented in Greece or Rome to victors in sports or battles. The pinecones represent the fruit of the earth, seeds and re-birth, while the traditional red berries and ribbon signify blood, and are often seen as a sign of Jesus’ crucifixion.

I love how wreaths have become so much more than just a way to display evergreens. The range available is so vast, there’s bound to be one that matches your style. My front door wreath comes from Aldi and is completely free of everygreens, but there are wreaths made from bells, feathers, willow, crocheted, knitted or carved. Wreaths, it seems, are a good way to showcase creativity.

And creativity, as we all know, takes time. I think that might be part of why we didn’t have a wreath on our door. Mum was a teacher, and Christmas in school very often used to run up to just a day or two before proper Christmas. End of term was a mad dash of parties and plays, and the day after finishing was spent shopping, wrapping, getting ready. I count myself fortunate to have had time to fiddle, to make or to adapt. I’m not desperate to make a fresh wreath every year. My snowy twig wreath from Aldi will do until it’s too knackered and battered to go up, but I appreciate its message to me and the message I hope it gives other people:

  • In this house we celebrate Christmas.
  • Life, like a wreath, goes on forever round and round so you might as well find a way to enjoy it.
  • Everything looks beautiful under a dusting of snow.
  • The fruits of life are there to enjoy.
  • We all shine like stars, some brighter than others, and together we make an impressive display.

Part of my Advent preparations this year is a Doodle a Day. Today’s was, of course, a wreath.

And my advent film tonight will be The Holiday. I’m sure there’s a wreath on both front doors in that film, and that the cultural differences between the golden, evergreen-free Hollywood one and the traditional, green English cottage wreath will be obvious.

Finally, a book that I have acquired this year and that seems particularly apt for a day thinking about wreaths is The Wheel of The Year. Written by a pagan, Rebecca Beattie, I enjoyed the first chapter on how Midwinter has been celebrated throughout history: humans have long felt a need to have a festival of lights at the darkest point of life, and Christmas was placed particularly as it was precisely so that the renewal of light and the return of the Sun could be closely tied in with the renewal of inner spiritual life and the return of the Son. Life is a cycle, and echoes of the past ride underneath the skirt of the present.

How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.

I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:

Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. Lent is a season of rituals and resets. The book has small and easy ways to make your life flow with grace and happiness, which lead to more hygge.

Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human. And it’s always the little things.

And my Christmas books are all available now: 

Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas is the basic, all round Christmas hygge book, with advice and ideas on how to make hygge (the cosiest way to be mindful and live in the moment) a large part of all your celebrations.

Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas is about taking time to look after yourself at the busiest season of all and is only available in ebook, with its own advent calendar of selfcare ideas.

 Celebrating a Contagious Christmas was my answer to Christmas in Lockdowns in 2020 but might (sadly) prove useful for a few more years to come. It has advice on celebrating small scale, and keeping a Christmas flexible. I’m itching to write a new Christmas book, on simplicity, frugality, minimalism and making the meaning of your Christmas more significant, but time, time, time…

If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.

The photo between post and promotions is by Annie Spratt on Unsplash . I love the little car against a grey background. One of my plans for a Christmas table is based on a car like this, driving home for Christmas…… And the header is a photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash. Since I’m posting every day (hopefully) I’ll use just one header for the full set rather than try and find a new one every time and this one had all the elements I wanted for Christmas hiraeth: warm drinks, something sweet to eat, photographs and a way to capture memories forever.

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