Fred Foreman, Water Quality Specialist for the City of DuPont, remembers the start of the historical community’s Advent Wreath custom. Fred was 11 years old when he first took part in the start of this long-standing Village tradition. (Click here for more picture).
In the early 1970s, according to Ellie Gorgensen, long-time resident and one of the original wreath makers, it was a Mrs. Goldsmith, “who started the wreath making project.”
Advent Wreath-making is much older than 30+ years, of course, going back at least to the 16th century. Long before then, though, pre-Christian Germanic people, during the cold December darkness, gathered evergreens and lighted fires as signs of hope in a coming spring and renewed light.
From Germany the Advent wreath tradition, with five candles, (symbolizing the Coming of Christ) spread to other parts of the Christian world.
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving a dozen community volunteers gathered in the fire engine bay at the city’s Public Works building. Boughs of fragrant cedar, Douglas fir, holly, and bright red bows were heaped around the room. Wreath making, Foreman added, has taken place at different sites during the decades.
Within two hours, 26 wreaths, (originally there were 40) were ready to be placed, thanks to efforts of veteran wreath makers and new recruits, such as five-year-old Lindsay, who mostly enjoyed the sweets.
The spruced-up wreaths will be hung from lampposts throughout the Village, at City Hall and the historic museum, according to Foreman. Wreaths have been given as memorials for families of Villagers, and a small tag is attached noting the person for whom it was given.
During that morning workshop volunteers clipped boughs, trimmed, replaced light bulbs (only one bulb blew out when it was tested that morning) and added jaunty red vinyl bows.
The earliest wreaths, Foreman recalled, consisted of fresh evergreens. Eventually a mixture of artificial and live greens was used. For many years, the City was responsible for the city’s Christmas celebration. Eventually, responsibility for the custom was returned to a stalwart corps of volunteers, who continue the practice.
“I’m determined that this heritage will continue,” emphasized city resident Lorraine Overmyer, a leader in the Historic Society.
The candles’ glow has a special meaning to Villagers.
From the vantage point of her bedroom window, Mrs. Overmyer says she “loves to see the wreaths’ lights reflected along Barksdale Street.”
When they’re taken down in January, she misses them.
Besides the city wreaths, there’s a mammoth wreath that hangs in the sanctuary at the DuPont Community Church during the Christmas season. The first of five candles is to be lit at the 5 p.m. church service on Dec. 3. Note: The final DuPont Centennial History lecture is to be presented at 2 p.m. at the church on Sunday, Dec. 10.
Submitted by Nancy Covert