Each year households around the world prepare wreaths for Advent. Some people fill their wreath with candles to light week by week; others hang them around their home. Our usual custom is to mark time during advent with a calendar rather than a wreath and candles, so we use our wreath to adorn our door in the lead up to Christmas.
Freshly made wreaths don’t seem to be very popular in Sydney. It makes sense in this climate. Keeping a floral arrangement out of water in the early summer heat, even for a couple of hours, leads to tragically quick wilting. However it’s an aesthetic we’ve decided to embrace as sign of this season of waiting. Flowers are beautiful but their glory is fleeting. We are waiting for the time that the Lord will return and free us from slavery to sin and death.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand for ever.
So for the last couple of years we’ve been making wreaths out of hardy Australian natives. They look beautiful freshly picked, and… well, less beautiful but still kind of OK a month later when we walk through the door on Christmas Eve.
Come with us on our wreath-making adventure this year and learn how to make your own.
The day begins early at the flower markets. We pick up some wax flowers, mountain devil and white limonium (technically not a native, but it looks very nice as it dries). We also find some weeping willow branches to use for the wreath base.
The first job is stripping the leaves off all the willow branches and keeping the long, supple branches to weave into a wreath.
Back in year seven my friend Elwin taught me how to make fairy-crowns out of weeping willow branches. Without doubt I think it is one of the coolest skills I learnt in high school. I still use this skill each year for making a wreath base, which is essentially just making a crown for a fairy with an enormous head. Twist one branch into a hoop. Then keep wrapping more and more branches around the hoop until it’s a couple of centimetres thick and holding its shape.
Once the base is ready it’s just a matter of trial and error as we weave leaves and flowers into the wreath base. Ideally we try and avoid using any wire or string to tie the leaves and flowers down because these will become more visible as the wreath dries out.
Greenery goes on first.
Are you using a wreath to decorate your home or hold your advent candles?