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A golden laurel wreath, origin: probably Cyprus, 4th—3rd century BC.
A laurel wreath decorating a memorial at the Folketing, the national parliament of Denmark.

A laurel wreath is a circular wreath made of interlocking branches and leaves of the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), an aromatic broadleaf evergreen, or later from spineless butcher's broom (Ruscus hypoglossum) or cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus). In Greek mythology, Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head. In ancient Greece wreaths were awarded to victors, both in athletic competitions, including the ancient Olympics made of wild olive-tree known as "kotinos" (κότινος),[1] (sc. at Olympia) and in poetic meets; in Rome they were symbols of martial victory, crowning a successful commander during his triumph. Whereas ancient laurel wreaths are most often depicted as a horseshoe shape, modern versions are usually complete rings.

In common modern idiomatic usage it refers to a victory. The expression "resting on one's laurels" refers to someone relying entirely on long-past successes for continued fame or recognition, where to "look to one's laurels" means to be careful of losing rank to competition.[2]

Academic use[edit]

Ovid with laurel wreath, common in poets.

In some countries the laurel wreath is used as a symbol of the master's degree. The wreath is given to young masters in the graduation ceremony of the university. The word "Laureate" in 'poet laureate' refers to being signified by the laurel wreath. The medieval Florentine poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri, a graduate of the Sicilian School, is often represented in paintings and sculpture wearing a laurel wreath.

laureato is the term used in Italy to refer to any graduated student. In Italy, right after the graduation ceremony (in Italian: laurea), the student receives a laurel wreath and is allowed to wear it for the rest of the day. This tradition was born in the University of Padua and since the end of the 19th century is common to all Italian universities.

At Connecticut College in the United States, members of the junior class carry a laurel chain, which the seniors pass through during commencement. It represents nature and the continuation of life from year to year. Immediately following commencement, the junior girls write out with the laurels their class year, symbolizing they have officially become seniors and the period will repeat itself the following spring.

At Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, USA, laurel has been a fixture of commencement traditions since 1900, when graduating students carried or wore laurel wreaths. In 1902, the chain of mountain laurel was introduced; since then, tradition has been for seniors to parade around the campus, carrying and linked by the chain. The mountain laurel represents the bay laurel used by the Romans in wreaths and crowns of honor.[3]

At Reed College in Portland, Oregon, United States, members of the senior class receive laurel wreaths upon submitting their senior thesis in May. The tradition stems from the use of laurel wreaths in athletic competitions; the seniors have "crossed the finish line," so to speak.

At St. Mark's School in Southborough, Massachusetts, students who successfully complete three years of one classical language and two of the other earn the distinction of the Classics Diploma and the honor of wearing a laurel wreath on Prize Day.

In Sweden, those receiving a doctorate or an honorary doctorate at the Faculty of Philosophy (meaning philosophy, languages, arts, history and social sciences), receive a laurel wreath during the ceremony of conferral of the degree.

In Finland, in University of Helsinki a laurel wreath is given during the ceremony of conferral for masters's degree. Doctors wear special kind of Doctoral hat.

Architectural and decorative arts motif[edit]

"Victory, A Knight Being Crowned With A Laurel Wreath" by Frank Dicksee.

The laurel wreath is a common motif in architecture, furniture, and textiles. The laurel wreath is seen carved in the stone and decorative plaster works of Robert Adam, and in Federal, Regency, Directoire, and Beaux-Arts periods of architecture. In decorative arts, especially during the Empire period, the laurel wreath is seen woven in textiles, inlaid in marquetry, and applied to furniture in the form of gilded brass mounts. Alfa Romeo added a laurel wreath to their logo after they won the inaugural Automobile World Championship in 1925 with the P2 racing car.

As used in heraldry[edit]

A laurel wreath in the coat of arms of Peru.

Laurel wreaths are sometimes used in heraldry. It may be used as a charge in the shield, around the shield or on top of it.

Wreath of Service[edit]

The "wreath of service" is located on all commissioner position patches in the Boy Scouts of America. This is a symbol for the service rendered to units and the continued partnership between volunteers and professional Scouter. The Wreath of Service represents commitment to program and unit service.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ LSJ entry κότινος
  2. ^ "look to one's laurels". Oxford. Retrieved November 13, 2012. 
  3. ^ Loomer, Jennifer. "Traditions: Laurel Parade". Mount Holyoke Historical Atlas: Traditions of Mount Holyoke College. Mount Holyoke College. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  4. ^ "The History of Commissioner Service". Golden Empire Council. Retrieved 9 June 2006. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurel_wreath — Please support Wikipedia.
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1254 news items

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 14:11:15 -0700

Like extensions and clip-ins, hair accessories are the ultimate in convenience and can really nail a costume. Think about headbands for that 60s hippie look, tiara for a princess, Greek laurel wreath for an athlete, feathers, beads, big booming headphones!

Press Herald

Press Herald
Sun, 04 Oct 2015 07:34:06 -0700

Graves wasn't the only familiar face wearing a laurel wreath. Leah Frost, a native of Round Pound now living in northeastern Vermont, made it three straight victories by lopping more than four minutes from her time last year to win in 2:47:34. “My goal ...
The Eagle
Tue, 06 Oct 2015 05:00:00 -0700

#Girl's competitor Lillian Clark from Addison, Vermont, the home-town favorite, was the girl's overall winner and won the shootout with two perfect bull's eyes scores for the title of Grand Champion and honor of a laurel wreath crown. #Men's gold ...

CoinWeek (blog)

CoinWeek (blog)
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 20:56:15 -0700

The first coins of Francis II as Holy Roman Emperor included .583 fine silver (billon) 20 kreuzer pieces bearing a young laureate head r. in laurel wreath. The reverses bore the Habsburg double eagle with closed crown and bifold shield of Austria-Lorraine.


Mon, 07 Sep 2015 14:03:43 -0700

Nation, are you ready for the real Stephen Colbert ? The actor, comedian and – since 2005 — faux bloviator of Comedy Central 's TheColbert Report — on Tuesday begins his dream job, replacing David Letterman as the host of CBS's Late Show (11:35 p.m. ...

Daily Journal Online

Daily Journal Online
Mon, 21 Sep 2015 03:52:30 -0700

District 8 Chief of Staff Dennis Mayberry stepped forward to place a laurel wreath, saying, “As the flag of the United States symbolizes victory over oppression for the living, so this laurel wreath symbolizes victory over death for those who have made ...

Conservative Home

Conservative Home
Fri, 02 Oct 2015 00:07:18 -0700

there's now a purple robe draped across the former, and a laurel wreath perched atop the latter. The Chancellor's evolution is almost complete. He has become an Emperor. In truth, Osborne's Empire has been expanding for a while. Even when we never ...

Focus News

Focus News
Sun, 04 Oct 2015 14:00:00 -0700

A citizen of Ethiopia was adorned with the laurel wreath in the classic distance of 42,195 km. Samuel Demi won the 32nd edition of the race in fierce battle with Kenyan Moses Kibiri and first crossed the finish line 2:16:40. Gudeta Biratu remained ...

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