Monday, December 22, 2008
The photo above is of Arlington National Cemetery. The wreaths are placed on 5000 graves by the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington , Maine. The owner, Morill Worcester, not only provides the wreaths, but covers the trucking expense as well. He's done this since 1992.
In 1992 he was faced with a surplus of wreaths and hearkened back to a memorable trip he'd taken to Arlington National Cemetery when he was 12-years old. He took the wreaths to Arlington from his business in Maine and laid them on the graves of 4,000 who are laid to rest there.
The next year he decided to plan on taking 5,000 wreaths and has been doing it ever since. He said that there were only a few volunteers the first year and it took them five or six hours to place the wreaths. Now, however, he has so many helpers each year that the work is done in about an hour.
The wreaths that I grew up with are the traditional "della Robbia" style inspired by Eighteenth-century engravings. Typical materials included apples, lemons, limes, oranges, pineapples, pomegranates, cranberries, bayberries, holly berries, chinaberries, rose hips, sumac berries, magnolia pods, lotus pods, milkweed pods, dried flowers, cotton bolls, rosemary, laurel, okra pods, dried cayenne peppers, mistletoe - as well as red cedar, red oak, boxwood, pine, fir, mountain laurel, magnolia, ivy.
The linking of fruited "della Robbia" wreaths with Christmas and front doors seems to have started during the early years of this century in America's wealthier homes. It has become the popular wreath in the tidewater area of Virginia where I'm from. So my wife and I have continued to use these wreaths at our home in SC.
We don't use real fruit because that would rot quickly or be eaten by squirrels. Maybe even a deer would venture up the steps to take a bite of a real apple. We use holly berries, seed pods, pine cones, magnolia leaves, and oyster shells as well as some artificial fruit. I like these wreaths because they are made from mostly natural things and their simplicity to my eye is beautiful. Keep it simple works with decorations too.
Just sharing some Christmas tradition with you today in the spirit of the season.