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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, Lauraceae), an aromatic broadleaf evergreen. 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, 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.

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Academic use

In some countries the laurel wreath is used as 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.

At Connecticut College 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 cycle will repeat itself the following spring.

At Reed College 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.

Architectural and decorative arts motif

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.

Wreath of Service

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.[1]

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Simple English


A laurel wreath is a horseshoe or circle-shaped wreath made from laurel that can be worn on the head. In Greek mythology, the god Apollo is shown wearing a laurel wreath because of the story of Apollo and Daphne. In Ancient Greece it was given to special people, such as winners in competitions in poetry or sports, such as the Ancient Olympic Games.

It was also used in Ancient Rome, and Roman Emperors are often shown wearing laurel wreaths.

Until our time laurel wreaths are used to show that someone has done something special (for example the Summer Olympics 2004 in Athens, Greece gave laurel wreaths to the winners). The saying "resting on one's laurels" comes from this and means that someone relaxes now because he or she did something good in the past.

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