A Brief History of the Flower Crown

Despite the fact that wedding flower crowns are hugely popular today, they’re really not a new idea. The fresh flower halo has been a popular accessory all over the world for centuries. And it’s steeped in tradition and meaning.

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A wreath for attire purposes is a headdress made of leaves, grasses, flowers or branches. It is typically worn in festive occasions and on holy days and has a long history and association with ancient pageants and ceremonies. Outside of occasional use, the wreath can also be used as a crown.

To get the full scoop on the flower crown, you have to go all the way back to ancient Greece. Let the history lesson begin.

The Ancient Greek Flower Crown

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Flower crowns were common in ancient Greece; it was especially popular to wear them at special occasions to honor the gods. Going along with that idea, during the same era, the laurel leaf wreath came into fashion as well (think: Julius Caesar). These laurel halos would be awarded to army victors to honor achievements and signify respect.

Antinous: lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian
Antinous: lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian

Christianity

Christ with the Crown of Thorns
Christ with the Crown of Thorns

In Christianity, the wreath represents the resurrection of Christ and therefore eternal life, more appropriately the victory of life over death. The crown of thorns was placed on the head of Jesus at his execution by crucifixion and became a symbol of the Passion.

The Ukrainian Flower Crown

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Flower crowns (known as a vinok) are a part of the traditional folk dress in the Ukraine. Oftentimes, girls of a marriageable age would wear them. During the Ukrainian wedding ceremony, wreaths made out of periwinkle and myrtle are placed on top of the couple’s heads after the vow exchange. Today, traditional Ukrainian flower crowns are more often seen at festivals and special occasions, including weddings.

The Polynesian Flower Crown

Hawaiian Flower Crown
Hawaiian Flower Crown

Floral wreaths and garlands known as lei (Hawaii) are ubiquitous in Polynesia as both ornamental attire and gifts representative of affection or respect. It is worn by men and women around the neck or around the head and commonly fashioned of flowers, leaves, vines and plant fiber.

The Ancient Chinese Flower Crown

Traditional Chinese Head-Dress
Traditional Chinese Head-Dress

In China, the orange blossom flower crown was customarily worn during a wedding. Since orange trees blossom and bear fruit at the same time, they’re meant to symbolize fertility and were thought to bring children to a marriage.

The Victorian Era Flower Crown

Queen Victoria on her Wedding Day
Queen Victoria on her Wedding Day

Like the white wedding gown, Queen Victoria also brought the flower crown into fashion in Europe. She wore an orange blossom wreath (the idea borrowed from the Chinese) in her hair for her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840. After that, orange blossoms became so closely associated with weddings that the phrase “to gather orange blossoms” took on the meaning “to seek a wife.”

The 1960s American Flower Crown

Model Jean Shrimpton photographed in a flower crown for Vogue in 1965. (Photo: Instagram)
Model Jean Shrimpton photographed in a flower crown for Vogue in 1965. (Photo: Instagram)

The late 1960s are practically synonymous with hippie culture—and flower crowns became a fashion accessory mainstay associated with peace and love, all ideals of the movement. Though the hippie style was a subculture of the time, it influenced mainstream fashion, thus bringing flower crowns back into style at weddings.

Today’s Flower Crown

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So why are we so darn obsessed with flower crowns? Besides the fact that flower crowns have been a symbol of love, fertility and celebration throughout history and around the world, they’re so easy to personalize. Go as over-the-top or as simple as you want to – from oversize flowers to a few simple green sprigs and mini spray roses.

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