Christ’s light shining over a dark world is symbolized by the Advent wreath, with its four candles that light Jesus’ way. Register file photo.

Wreath is symbolic of Christ’s light shining on a dark world

  • December 21, 2015

TORONTO - After watching friends and families with children come together to create a Christmas tradition making decorative wreathes, Sarah Fairley finally decided to give it a go herself.

“We’ve been making wreathes here at Colborne Lodge for so many many years that I recently joined the team,” said Fairley, who learned the craft this past November. “We’ve got quite a few people, whether they’re family groups or groups of friends, who’ve made a tradition of coming year after year.”

Fairley is referring to people who ante up $55 for an adult and child to take one of the two-hour wreath-making workshops held at Colborne Lodge each November and December.

“They sell out quickly so people should start looking for an opportunity to book in mid-October,” she said.

Held at the lodge, located in the south end of Toronto’s High Park neighbourhood, participants are provided with everything they need.

“We use a wire frame, floral wire, associated greenery and decorations,” she said.

To make a wreath full of scent, textures and volume, Fairley suggests using pine, cedar and fur bows for the body of the wreath.

And while learning the craft is the primary focus of the workshops, there is another lesson or two to be found by exploring the symbolism in a wreath.

“The wreath, because it is in a circular shape, symbolizes Christ’s everlasting love,” said Fr. Jinto Puthiyidathuchalili, pastor of Holy Name Church in Toronto’s Greektown neighbourhood. “Secondly, you can talk about the connection to the season of Advent.”

In fact many believe the notion of hanging a wreath on one’s door to show your household is celebrating the season evolved from the Advent wreath. Among the elements which separate Advent and Christmas wreaths is the four candles.

On each Sunday of Advent another one of the candles is lit which, according to Puthiyidathuchalili, is symbolic of the light of Christ conquering the darkness of the world. After lighting the candle, you are then expected to allocate time for prayer and reflection.

“I don’t think there are any standard in terms of prayers,” said Puthiyidathuchalili, who is originally from India. “Different people have different prayers but they all mean the same, symbolizing the light of Christ and that Christ conquered the darkness. So you can speak to your children about that too.”

The popular notion of the wreath’s origins is that this Christian symbol evolved from the ancient Romans use of a wreath as a sign of victory. Even today wreathes are incorporated into the Olympics, including appearing on the medals.

At Holy Name, a large wreath has been hung outside the church making it visible to those passing by on Danforth Avenue. To turn it into a symbolic Advent wreath, Puthiyidathuchalili said a bow is being added on each Sunday of Advent.

“There is definitely a tradition to be made in doing this,” said Puthiyidathuchalili, who was named pastor of Holy Name earlier this year. “It is a sign that we are as the Church community preparing ourselves for Christmas.”

Back at Colborne Lodge, Fairley said she’s seen many new faces vow to add a wreath to their Christmas celebration tradition.

“It creates a festive atmosphere,” she said.

“While the first time out it might not be perfect it is always something that they are really proud of. They’re often happy with the imperfection.”

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