Laurel wreath

A laurel wreath is a round wreath made of connected 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). It is a symbol of triumph and is worn as a chaplet around the head, or as a garland around the neck. The symbol of the laurel wreath traces back to Greek mythology. Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head, and wreaths were awarded to victors, both in athletic competitions. This includes the ancient Olympics — for which they were 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]

A laurel wreath decorating a memorial at the Folketing, the national parliament of Denmark.


Bockhorst Apollo und Daphne
Apollo and Daphne

Apollo, the patron of sport, is associated with the wearing of a laurel wreath.[3] This association arose from the ancient Greek mythology story of Apollo and Daphne. Apollo, mocked the god of love, Eros (Cupid), for his use of bow and arrow, as Apollo is also patron of archery. The insulted Eros then prepared two arrows: one of gold and one of lead. He shot Apollo with the gold arrow, instilling in the god a passionate love for the river nymph Daphne. He shot Daphne with the lead arrow, instilling in her a hatred for Apollo. Apollo pursued Daphne until she begged to be free of him and was turned into a laurel tree.[3]

Apollo vowed to honor Daphne forever and used his powers of eternal youth and immortality to render the laurel tree evergreen. Apollo then crafted himself a wreath out of the laurel branches and turning Daphne into a cultural symbol for him and other poets and musicians.[3]

Academic use

An actress performing a play. She wears a laurel wreath and stands in front of a statue of a woman from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. Room 21, The British Museum, London
An actress performing a play. She wears a laurel wreath and stands in front of a statue of a woman from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. Room 21, The British Museum, London

In some countries the laurel wreath is used as a symbol of the master's degree. The wreath is given to young masters at the university graduation ceremony. The word "laureate" in 'poet laureate' refers to the laurel wreath. The medieval Florentine poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri, a member of the Sicilian School[4], is often represented in paintings and sculpture wearing a laurel wreath.

In Italy, the term laureato is used in to refer to any student who has graduated. Right after the graduation ceremony, or laurea in Italian, the student receives a laurel wreath to wear for the rest of the day. This tradition originated at the University of Padua and has spread in the last two centuries to all Italian universities.

Latin Poet Ovid
Ovid with laurel wreath, common in poets

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.[5]

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.[6]

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.[7]

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 a special kind of Doctoral hat.

Architectural and decorative arts motif

The laurel wreath is a common motif in architecture, furniture, and textiles.[8] 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

CNT Emblem
A laurel wreath in the emblem of the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist labour union, the CNT

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.[9]

Wreath of service

Olive wreath
Wreath of Service

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.[10]

Further reading

  • Carruthers, Emile (2017-05-04). "The Ancient Origins of the Flower Crown". The Iris. The Getty. Retrieved 2019-02-14.

See also


  1. ^ Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert (1843). A Greek-English Lexicon (1 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-864226-8. Retrieved 13 February 2019. κότι^νος
  2. ^ "look to one's laurels". Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Paulson, Ronald; Eisenman, Peter (2007). Sin and Evil: Moral Values in Literature. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300120141.
  4. ^ Alighieri, Dante (October 29, 2007). "Dante Alighieri". Dante Alighieri. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  5. ^ "Commencement Traditions". Connecticut College. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  6. ^ Loomer, Jennifer. "Traditions: Laurel Parade". Mount Holyoke Historical Atlas: Traditions of Mount Holyoke College. Mount Holyoke College. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  7. ^ Hernadez, Romel. "The Turning of the Thesis". Reed Magazine. Reed College. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  8. ^ Brown, Richard (1841). Domestic architecture: containing a history of the science, and the principles of designing public edifices, private dwelling-houses. p. 200.
  9. ^ "Heraldic Meanings". American College of Heraldry. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  10. ^ "The History of Commissioner Service". Golden Empire Council. Retrieved 9 June 2006.

External links

Alfa Romeo P2

The Alfa Romeo P2 won the inaugural Automobile World Championship in 1925, taking victory in two of the four championship rounds when Antonio Ascari drove it in the European Grand Prix at Spa and Gastone Brilli-Peri won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza after Ascari died while leading the intervening race at Montlhery.

Although 1925 brought drastic changes of regulations, from 1924-1930 the P2 was victorious in 14 Grands Prix and major events including the Targa Florio. It was one of the iconic Grand Prix cars of the 1920s, along with the Bugatti Type 35, and enabled Alfa Romeo, as world champions, to incorporate the laurel wreath into their logo.

The P2 was introduced by Alfa Romeo for the Circuit of Cremona in northern Italy in 1924, where Antonio Ascari won at over 158 km/h (98 mph), and then went on to win the speed trial at 195 km/h (121 mph). The car was the first creation of Alfa’s new designer Vittorio Jano who had been recruited from Fiat by Enzo Ferrari when Nicola Romeo scrapped the P1 after its poor performance in the 1923 Monza Grand Prix against Fiat. The P2 was powered by Alfa’s first straight-8 cylinder supercharged engine with 2 carburettors placed after the compressor.

Only 2 of the 6 original models survive, and they can be seen in the Alfa Romeo Museum in Arese and the Turin Automobile Museum. The P2 had two body styles using either a cut off or long rear.

One of the P2s was featured on the main sculpture at the 2010 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Army Gold Medal

The Army Gold Medal (1808–1814), also known as the Peninsular Gold Medal, with an accompanying Gold Cross, was a British campaign medal awarded in recognition of field and general officers' successful commands in campaigns, predominantly the Peninsular War. It was not a general medal, since it was issued only to officers whose status was no less than that of battalion commander or equivalent.

Asterix and the Laurel Wreath

Asterix and the Laurel Wreath (French: Les Lauriers de César, "Caesar's Laurels") is the eighteenth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was originally serialized in the magazine Pilote, issues 621-642, in 1971 and translated into English in 1974.

Award items and badges of the SV Dynamo

The SV Dynamo sports club awarded various signs, badges, medals and lapel pins to its members. The highest award was the title of Dzerzhinsky-Athlete (German: Dzierzynskisportler).

Balloon Observer's Badge

The Balloon Observer's Badge (German: Ballonbeobachterabzeichen) was a military decoration of Nazi Germany during World War II. It was awarded to German Army personnel who operated gas balloons flying them 300 ft (91 m)-500 ft (152 m) above the ground. The balloons were easy targets for Allied pilots and ground fire. Due to its late introduction, only a very small number of badges were awarded.The die-struck badge features a laurel wreath of oak leaves and acorns surmounted by the national eagle grasping a swastika. Below this is a representation of an observation balloon. The Balloon Observer's Badge had three grades based on a point system: Bronze (20 points); Silver (45 points) and Gold (75 points).Points were awarded for particular conditions, such as the difficulty and success of a mission. There is no record of the gold version ever being awarded. Recommendation for the award was rendered by a commanding officer of either the observer unit, artillery unit or army unit.

Candahar, Ghuznee, Cabul Medal

The Candahar, Ghuznee, Cabul Medal was awarded to those who took part in the campaign in the spring and summer of 1842, under the command of General William Nott, to restore British standing in Afghanistan after earlier defeats during the First Anglo-Afghan War.

The medal was approved by General Order at Simla 4 October 1842. Approximately 22,100 were awarded, about 4,400 to members of the British Army and 17,700 to the mainly native forces of the Honourable East India Company.

Coat of arms of Cuba

The Cuban coat of arms is the official heraldic symbol of Cuba. It consists of a shield, in front of a fasces crowned by the Phrygian cap, all supported by an oak branch on one side and a laurel wreath on the other. The coat of arms was created by Miguel Teurbe Tolón and was adopted on April 24, 1906.

It is the only coat of arms of a currently socialist country that does not use any communist symbolism.

Dike (mythology)

In ancient Greek culture, Dike or Dice ( or ; Greek: Δίκη, "Justice") is the goddess of justice and the spirit of moral order and fair judgement based on immemorial custom, in the sense of socially enforced norms and conventional rules. According to Hesiod (Theogony, l. 901), she was fathered by Zeus upon his second consort, Themis. She and her mother are both personifications of justice. She is depicted as a young, slender woman carrying a physical balance scale and wearing a laurel wreath. She is represented in the constellation Libra which is named for the Latin name of her symbol (Scales). She is often associated with Astraea, the goddess of innocence and purity. Astraea is also one of her epithets referring to her appearance in the nearby constellation Virgo which is said to represent Astraea. This reflects her symbolic association with Astraea, who too has a similar iconography.

Flag of San Marino

The state and war flag of San Marino is formed by two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and light blue with the national coat of arms superimposed in the center; the coat of arms has a shield (featuring three towers on three peaks) with a closed crown on top, flanked by an oak and laurel wreath, with a scroll below bearing the word LIBERTAS (Liberty). The two colors of the flag represent peace (white) and liberty (azure).Although the Law on the flag and coat of arms of San Marino from 2011 refers only to the "official flag" of the republic, a de facto civil flag, which omits the coat of arms, can sometimes be seen flying. Some official sources of San Marino suggest that the civil flag is actually the bicolor with the coat of arms of the specific city it is used in, instead of the national one.The national ensign of San Marino is identical to the state flag.


Gekkeikan Sake Company, Ltd. (月桂冠株式会社, Gekkeikan Kabushikigaisha) is a Japanese manufacturer of sake and plum wine based in Fushimi, Kyoto, Japan. Founded in 1637 by Jiemon Ōkura, in Fushimi, it is one of the world's oldest companies, and is a member of the Henokiens group. The name of the company literally means "laurel wreath".

Gekkeikan's United States subsidiary, Gekkeikan Sake (USA), Inc., is located in Folsom, California. The company controls approximately 25% of the American sake market.

Goethe–Schiller Monument (Milwaukee)

The Goethe–Schiller Monument is a public artwork by German artist Ernst Friedrich August Rietschel located in Washington Park, which is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. The bronze sculpture from 1908 depicts two men, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich von Schiller, one holding a laurel wreath and the other a scroll. The 12 foot artwork rests upon a 26 foot long granite base. The bronze sculpture is a recasting of the statue incorporated into the 1857 Goethe-Schiller Monument in Weimar, Germany.

Israel Defense Forces ranks

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has a unique rank structure. Because the IDF is an integrated force, ranks are the same in all services (there is no differentiation between army, navy, air force, etc.) The ranks are derived from those used in the pre-state paramilitary Haganah, which operated during the Mandate period in order to protect the Yishuv. This is reflected in the slightly compacted rank structure: for instance, the Chief of Staff (rosh ha-mate ha-klali, initials: Ramatkal) is seemingly only equivalent to a lieutenant general in other militaries.


In Italy, the Iaurea is the main post-secondary academic degree. The name originally referred literally to the laurel wreath, since ancient times a sign of honor and now often worn by Italian students right after their official graduation ceremony and sometimes during the graduation party. A graduate is known as a laureato, literally "crowned with laurel."

List of flags of Romania

The following is a list of flag of Romania.

Military decorations of Mexico

This is a list of military decorations awarded by the United Mexican States (Estados Unidos Mexicanos) as part of the Mexican Honours System.

Statue of Freedom

The Statue of Freedom, also known as Armed Freedom or simply Freedom, is a bronze statue designed by Thomas Crawford (1814–1857) that, since 1863, has crowned the dome of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Originally named Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace, a U.S. government publication now states that the statue "is officially known as the Statue of Freedom". The statue depicts a female figure bearing a military helmet and holding a sheathed sword in her right hand and a laurel wreath and shield in her left.

Statue of James II, Trafalgar Square

The statue of James II is an outdoor bronze sculpture located in the front garden of the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square in London, United Kingdom. Probably inspired by French statues of the same period, it depicts James II of England as a Roman emperor, wearing Roman armour and a laurel wreath (traditionally awarded to a victorious Roman commander). It originally also depicted him holding a baton. It was produced by the workshop of Grinling Gibbons, though probably not by Gibbons himself. The statue has been relocated several times since it was first erected in the grounds of the old Palace of Whitehall in 1686, only two years before James II was deposed.

Swedish Armed Forces International Service Medal

Swedish Armed Forces International Service Medal (Swedish: Försvarsmaktens medalj för internationella insatser, FMintBM) is a Swedish reward medal instituted by the Swedish Armed Forces in 1991. The medal regulations has been revised twice, in 1994 and 2012. The medal is awarded after at least 30 days of international service.

Vodnik Monument

The Vodnik Monument (Slovene: Vodnikov spomenik) or Valentin Vodnik Monument (Spomenik Valentinu Vodniku), is dedicated to the Carniolan priest, poet and journalist Valentin Vodnik (1758−1819). It stands at Vodnik Square (Vodnikov trg) in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, in the immediate vicinity of the Ljubljana Central Market.The idea for the statue was put forward by the politician Lovro Toman on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the poet's birth and was organised by the Writers' Support Society in collaboration with the Slovene Society. It was made from 1887 to 1889 in bronze and with a simple stone pedestal in Vienna by the young sculptor Alojz Gangl (1859−1935) and was unveiled on 30 June 1889 with a three-day celebration as the first public Slovene national monument. The monument has a bronze verse by Vodnik on its back side and the bronze inscription Vodnik on its front side. The verse is written in Slovene and says: "No daughter no son, to come after me, enough memory done, my songs sing of me."Because Vodnik was an ardent supporter of the Illyrian Provinces, which he saw as fostering Slovene linguistic development, the letters R and F, meaning République Française (a reference to the First French Republic), as well as a laurel wreath, a sheaf and a swearing arm above it, and the inscription A Vodnik below the wreath, were added to the pedestal in 1929, soon after the 120th anniversary of the establishment of the Provinces. These are all made of bronze. They were a gift by France and were also decorated with the French tricolour.

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