Many people I have ministered with for the past fifteen years have always asked me about the significance of garland in celebrations like Christmas and Easter. For a while, this question bothered me, so I turned to the Bible to know when the garlands were used and what they symbolized. So, what does garland symbolize in the Bible?
In this article, I will cover the various meanings of garland as in the Bible. I will shed light on what Christmas garland symbolizes and look at the Bible verses about garland and how it was used in the Old Testament. Read on as I delve into these and more topics.
What does the Bible say about garlands?
Garland is mentioned several times in the Bible, mostly as a symbol of honor or victory. However, there is no specific symbol associated with it. Exodus 28:32-34 records one of the earliest references to garlands. According to the verse, the Israelites used yarn, bells, and pomegranates to decorate the Tabernacle. The use of garlands in celebration of victory is seen in Esther 8:15-17 when the Jews use it to celebrate their victory over their enemies.
In the New Testament, there is an ironic form of garland used during Jesus’ crucifixion. When Roman soldiers were mocking Jesus, they put a crown of thorns on his head, this is recorded in John 19:2. 1 Corinthians 9:25 also suggests that the Apostle Paul used the image of a garland to show the reward that awaited those who lived by God’s word.
Generally, garlands are directly mentioned only a few times in the Bible but are referenced several times. There is no direct or constant meaning for it; instead, it symbolizes various concepts like victory and honor. The meanings are drawn from the context, which differs throughout the biblical stories.
Garland meaning in Hebrew
According to the Hebrews, a garland is an ornamental wreath worn on the head. It originates from the Hebrew term sephirah. This term is used symbolically in a prophecy of God’s judgment of Samaria. According to Isaiah 7:3-9, Samaria was filled with ‘political drunkards.’ The Kings of Israel and Syria allied against King Ahaz of Judah. God then sent Isaiah to give reassurance to Ahaz. In the text, the two kings wear garlands of flowers to symbolize their political power. These garlands are a decoration of beauty that is only momentary and fades with time. God becomes the crown of decoration for the people of Judah after the disappearance of the garlands of the ‘drunkards.’ This symbolizes their final victory.
Another Hebrew term that translates to garland is anaf. It also means wreath. In Song of Solomon 3:11, the bridegroom made a garland of silver for his bride, which further asserts the use of garlands as decorative adornments in Hebraic times. So, generally, Hebrews viewed garlands as ornaments of beauty and power.
How was garland used in the Old Testament?
In the Old Testament, garlands were used as headbands or decorative adornments made from flowers and leaves. According to Exodus 28:36-37, the Israelites made garlands using blue, scarlet, and purple yarns for the priests to wear. They were to be part of the ceremonial dress, and priests were to put them on before entering the Tabernacle. The garlands were made of fine linen and embroidered with gold thread.
In Esther 1:6, during the third year of the king’s reign, he held a banquet where he ordered the hanging of garlands in the courtyard of his palace. They were made of white and blue linen and fastened with cords of white linen and purple material. Even in instances where garlands were used as symbolic representations, the Old Testament books imply that they were in the form of headwear and decorations (Isaiah 7:3-9).
Bible verses about garlands
The most straightforward suggestions for garlands in the Bible are in Proverbs 1:9 and Proverbs 4:9. Proverbs 1:9 implies that a garland is a gift to whoever listens to the instructions of their mothers and fathers and takes them to heart. The reward for this is an ornament of grace and chains of honor, which implies that they will be respectable and honorable people. The latter also symbolizes an ornament of grace. This verse paints a picture of a father advising his son to seek wisdom. The father says, ‘She will give you a garland to grace your head.’ The ‘she’ in this case is wisdom personified. This verse implies that wisdom will ‘give’ whoever seeks it grace. Therefore, grace follows the wisdom seeker.
Other bible verses about garlands are 1 Kings 7:30; which talks about the items used to make the Tabernacle, Isaiah 28:1, Isaiah 61:3, Isaiah 61:10, and Revelation 12:1; which refers to a garland as an ornament of beauty. There are other references to crowns that can be interpreted as garlands. An example is the crown of thorns that the Roman soldiers put on Jesus’ head.
4 symbolic meanings of a garland in the Bible
Honor and respect
The Old Testament books imply this in several ways. According to Esther 6:8-9, King Xerxes orders that a garland be placed on Mordecai’s head to honor him. Mordecai had helped stop a planned assassination of the king. Once he was aware of the plot by two of the king’s eunuchs, he informed Esther, who brought it to the king’s attention. His reward was a royal procession and, of course, a garland crown. A similar case is in Songs of Solomon 3:11, which suggests that the bridegroom wore a garland to symbolize his status as a to-be husband.
Today, we see garlands used during birthdays, Christmas, and Easter celebrations. Well, this was happening during biblical times as well. In Psalms 118:27, there is a festive procession, and those participating are waving palm branches and singing songs of praise. These branches were well known to be in the shape of wreaths.
Pharisees and scribes were well known to wear fringes and phylacteries to advertise their piety. Matthew 23:5 suggests that Jesus criticized them for dressing this way and neglecting matters of law that held more weight. Garlands were part of the symbols of devotion at the time and were sometimes used to represent false piety. In today’s society, there are also instances where many people wear clothes associated with spiritual devotion when in reality, they are frauds.
Authority and royalty
Garlands are essentially crowns. According to Revelations 4:4, there are 24 elders described as wearing crowns of gold on their heads. These elders hold a sense of authority which is symbolized by the garlands. Also, in the story of Mordecai, he was rewarded with a royal procession, and with it came with a crown. Garlands as symbols of royalty are further asserted by this, as implied in Esther 6:8-9.
What does a Christmas garland symbolize?
According to Kat Moon, a writer for Time, Christmas garlands symbolize eternity and divine perfection. The origin of garlands used during Christmas comes from a culture of trimming Christmas trees into triangular shapes to fit into houses. For Christians, this shape represents the Trinity. The cut pieces needed to be put into use, and so came the idea of garlands. They were formed into a wheel-like shape because it was easy to hang a circle on a branch of a tree. Christians at the time, however, found a new meaning for the circular shape. It symbolized eternity, as the shape of a circle has no end.
So, Christmas garlands symbolize eternity to some. However, to others, they are a presentation of divine perfection and a season of Advent. Some other Christians see it as an invitation for the spirit of Christmas to fill their homes with joy during the season.
What is the meaning of a garland crown?
A garland crown has different meanings depending on the context in which it is used. In the Bible, as we’ve already seen, it can mean honor and respect or celebration. The same does apply in today’s world, especially among Christians. A garland crown also means victory. In athletic and artistic competitions, winners are crowned with garlands made of flowers and leaves as a token of their accomplishments. It is also used to mark a season of festivity and celebration. In weddings, bridesmaids usually wear garland crowns, and in religious celebrations, garlands are used to signify the onset of a season of joy and celebration.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.