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A golden laurel wreath, probably originating from 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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2031 news items

Thu, 11 Feb 2016 18:37:30 -0800

It shows a bare head of Brutus right, wearing short beard; BRVTVS behind, IMP before; all within laurel wreath / A combined army and naval trophy, consisting of a cuirass, a crested helmet on the top, a curved sword and two crossed spears on the left ...


Thu, 11 Feb 2016 01:33:45 -0800

Venice's mayor has now replaced the Doge (duke) in this historical ceremony in which a laurel wreath is thrown into the lagoon at the Lido to symbolise the city's marriage to the sea. A regatta follows. Vogalonga Regatta When: June 8. Details ...

Newstalk 106-108 fm

Newstalk 106-108 fm
Thu, 11 Feb 2016 10:33:45 -0800

We know about the barking dogs, the ill-fitting gloves, the Court TV recordings. And, of course, we all know the verdict – an event deemed so important it's received the greatest laurel wreath in Ireland, inclusion in the '95 episode of Reeling in the ...

Harvard Gazette

Harvard Gazette
Tue, 09 Feb 2016 08:07:30 -0800

On the back of the monument White incorporated Augustus Saint-Gaudens' design of the masks representing comedy and tragedy within a laurel wreath, and a line from “Much Ado About Nothing.” “Meg and I were out on the grounds one day and we saw the ...

Fayetteville Observer (blog)

Fayetteville Observer (blog)
Thu, 03 Dec 2015 18:26:15 -0800

N.C. state representative Billy Richardson, right, stands with Terry Sanford principal Robert Guzman, center, and Bulldog basketball and football standout Mark Gilbert, left, during the presentation of the Laurel Wreath Award to Gilbert at Thursday's ...


Thu, 04 Feb 2016 12:33:54 -0800

Think tweaked takes on those classic FP polos—note the era-appropriate oversized laurel wreath logo—along with understated track pants and high-neck tees. Aside from the trove of photos and records Fred Perry has on the man himself that Cabourn dug ...

Enterprise News

Enterprise News
Fri, 22 Jan 2016 13:45:00 -0800

Before Purcell spoke, Marine honor guards solemnly placed a barrel-down rifle, combat jacket, flight helmet, boots and a laurel wreath on each cross. “Our sadness is immeasurable,” Purcell told the families, Marines and Coast Guard and firefighter ...
Baltimore Sun
Wed, 27 Jan 2016 13:33:45 -0800

If any of the bronze statues recommended for removal by a mayoral task force should be melted for scrap, my first nominee would be the memorial for fallen Confederate soldiers ("Baltimore City commission recommends removal of two Confederate ...

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