The day after my dad died a door-to-door vacuum sales-person showed up at the door. Despite informing him that we were a family grieving; he said that didn’t bother him and he proceeded to demonstrate how his vacuum system is so much better than the rest. After an hour of this, I showed him the door as politely as I could. And for our effort we won a barbeque set; you know, a spatula and skewers etc., all in a convenient plastic carrying case. I’m not making this up.
I wonder: if we had placed a wreath on the door, would it have made him choose not to knock? I doubt it but, at one time in many parts of the Maritimes it was customary to place a wreath on the door of a family that was in mourning. It was an indicator to neighbours, passerby’s and sales-people that there had been a death and they should act accordingly (and respectfully). As a result, the wreath began to be associated with death rather than the real reason it was placed on the door.
Wreaths are symbols of the eternal life that Jesus Christ, by dying and rising, wins for us. The circle shape of the wreath is endless, it just goes round and round, and is by extension, symbolic of eternity and the everlasting love of God. Originally, wreaths were not placed on doors to indicate that a death took place but, it was a profound statement of faith: that the circle remains unbroken and God’s love is with us even as we grieve.
Still today there are people for whom the connotation of death is the primary symbol of the wreath. To them I say, the round shape of the Advent wreath is not about death but the hope we have in Jesus Christ and the love God has made known to the world through him.