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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) used for cooking Adobo, 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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Mon, 03 Aug 2015 03:52:30 -0700

It was no surprise that the 1936 Summer Olympics were going to be complicated. The wrangling had begun months before the games, as the U.S. considered whether to pull out of the games over the suspicion that Jewish athletes were not being allowed to ...


Sat, 01 Aug 2015 05:56:15 -0700

This year's event is Midsummer Night's Dream-themed, which means that it will be happening outside, in garden courtyards, and that there's going to be at least one person wearing those laurel wreath things you can buy at Urban Outfitters. Guests will ...

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 17:33:45 -0700

... bronze statue of a victorious young athlete astride a pedestal, otherwise famously known as the Getty Bronze. Lithe and elegant, and almost as complete in its preservation as the boxer sculpture, a perfect youth is shown raising a now-missing ...

Uniontown Herald Standard

Uniontown Herald Standard
Fri, 31 Jul 2015 06:30:00 -0700

Two stained glass windows placed at the landing of the stairs and in a stairway wall are etched with a Laurel Wreath and Ribbon, one with a torch motif and the other with a shield located above. The house was purchased by Grimm's parents in 1954. Grimm ...
New York Times
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 04:28:57 -0700

In the first show held by the group in 1911, Rousseau's “The Poultry Yard” was given place of honor in the first room, with a laurel wreath hanging below it. It had been bought by Kandinsky, who kept it for the rest of his life. (It is now on loan from ...

The Atlantic

The Atlantic
Wed, 22 Jul 2015 10:26:15 -0700

I'd argue that's a heavy laurel wreath to bestow without further evidence. What is known about how the winning team members were educated? Where did they acquire the foundational skills that are the essential preparation for higher-level math?

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 15:47:09 -0700

Let's start with the Victorious Athlete, also known as "The Getty Bronze." This remarkable life-size sculpture of an athlete putting a laurel wreath on his head shows him as an idealized, almost divine version of a human being. But most of the other ...
The Durango Herald
Sun, 26 Jul 2015 13:26:15 -0700

Having driven recently to surrounding towns such as Pagosa Springs, Cortez, Monticello and Moab, we were bombarded with ubiquitous roadside signs and billboards. Who can we thank for the relative lack of these in Durango and La Plata County?

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