The Art of the Cemetery: Laurel Wreath

An evergreen tree of the Mediterranean region valued for its aromatic leaves, the laurel is a type of wreath.  Worn on the head as a symbol of triumph in Ancient Rome, the symbol of the laurel wreath actually comes from Greek mythology-the Romans, who admired Greek culture, adopted this famous symbol.  The national divinity of the Ancient Greeks Apollo wore a laurel of wreaths,  which became a symbol of the highest status and was given to special individuals, such as winners in competitions in poetry or sports, the Olympic Games in particular.

The use of wreaths-an ancient symbol of victory and memory-dates back to Ancient Greek times and was adopted into the Christian religion as a representation of the victory of redemption.  Wreaths, with their annular shape and evergreen material, symbolize continuous life.  The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, represents the circle of life-the immortality of the soul.

Laurels are a common icon found in cemeteries.  Ring-shaped and made of branches, the laurel wreath is seen as a symbol of victory over death in funerary art.  Beyond ascendancy, the laurel, especially when fashioned as a wreath, can represent distinction, eternity, or immortality.  The association with eternity and immortality comes from the resilience of its leaves, which are normally not susceptible to wilting or fading.  An important symbol of accomplishment, laurel wreaths are usually associated with someone who has attained outstanding achievement in the arts, literature, athletics, or military.

Woodlawn is an open-air art gallery and living history museum that attracts 100,000 visitors annually.  Our memorials represent the largest and finest collection of funerary art in the country.  Visit our cemetery and explore 400 acres of art, architecture, and history.

Woodlawn continues to be a non-sectarian cemetery without a specific religious affiliation.