Every Christmas season, along the restored area of Duke of Gloucester Street, all of the businesses and most of the private residences display custom made wreaths. All wreathes must be made from materials that would have been available to colonists in colonial times (early 1700s). That means that most wreathes are made from largely natural materials such as dried flowers, fruits, grasses, and other natural items (e.g., bone and feathers). They may include man-made items that are in keeping with Colonial times. These requirements, however, are not limitations.
Often, wreathes represent the business or product of a shop. This is similar to the signs many business used—the signs had images of the product or service because many people could not read lettered signs.
Using native plants and flowers can result in some very ornate, detailed designs.
The creative use of native materials is a constant theme throughout these wreaths.
The combination of the winter season and the fact that wreaths are displayed from Thanksgiving until the end of December, means that well preserved dried flowers and plants must be used.
Here, the featured pineapple is surrounded by apples highlighted with orange dried flowers and accented with cinnamon stick accents.
There is a small market in the restored area on Duke of Gloucester Street not far from the Powder Magazine that sells an assortment of dried flowers and fruits used in the traditional Williamsburg wreaths. Hanging on a shed in the back of the lot is an old, wilted wreath, perhaps from last Christmas, that used shells—both sea shells and a turtle shell.
The photos above were taken over several years, including some from this year.
©2014 Jeff Richmond
Williamsburg Christmas Holiday Wreaths – A Photo Essay is a collection of photos taken over several years of the beautiful wreaths that decorate Colonial Williamsburg during the holiday season. Each wreath demonstrates the use of plants and other materials that were available in colonial times.
Williamsburg Christmas Holiday Wreaths – A Photo Essay offers a collection of photos holiday wreaths from Colonial Williamsburg.