the Chaplet: more historical royal headgear

A chaplet is a wreath or garland of leaves and/or flowers worn like a coronet. Often times it is bestowed as a mark of honor or a symbol of esteem, an evolution of the Roman corrolla or corrollæ, chaplets made of the twigs of holy trees worn by the victors of sacred contests. (Think of a crown of laurels…from where the word laureate hails.) Still drawing a blank? Remember the Athens Olympics? Those were laurel corolla (aka “bay leaf” to us Americans) that the medalists wore during the ceremony.

chaplets: traditional, Polynesian and the Chaplets Gone Wild variety

chaplets: traditional, Polynesian and the Chaplets Gone Wild variety

 A chaplet of orange blossoms “in token of virginity” (oh snore already) was traditionally worn by first-time brides with their hair loose.  Chaplets were also popular for May Day, a left-over celebration of the pagan festival Beltane. Huge Maypoles were decorated and constructed and the young man who could climb to the top and fetch the wreath was known as the May King for the rest of the day. Similar Midsummer festivals are still held in Germany and Scadinavia; the Maypole, like the one located in Sweden below, still play a large role.

midsummer majastangsresning maypole östra Insjö, Dalarna, Sweden

midsummer [majastangsresning] maypole Östra Insjö, Dalarna, Sweden

Eventually these pagan rituals celebrating fertility and the season’s turn transitioned into Christian ones. The statue of the Virgin Mary is traditionally crowned with a chaplet on her holy day which coincided with the former Beltane. Christmas still saw the wearing of chaplets until it became a “political issue” in Renaissance England.

st lucia (center) is still celebrated in Scandanavia and Eastern Europe on December 13th

st lucia (center) is still celebrated in Scandanavia and Eastern Europe on December 13th

However, the chaplet is still embraced on Saint Lucy’s day in Sweden. On December 15, during the yuletide Advent season, the eldest daughter dresses as the famous saint and serves the rest of the family coffee and hot saffron buns in bed. The chaplet used to crown the “official” Santa Lucia of each town is made of bronze so it can support the candles St. Lucy traditionally wore.

st. lucia day

St. Lucia day in Sweden

The best part? Like the French hood, with some patience you can make a chaplet at home. (I wouldn’t advise pyrotechnic-supporting metallurgy at home, though.) I wonder what year this magazine is from…I’m assuming it’s not Parents Magazine given the reference to Zion in the Psalms quote in the top corner.

saccharine chaplet advert

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About ♔ la dauphiine ♔

Connecticut-based jewelry monger, history buff, Mets fan. On the hum-drum side, call me a lauded poet, novelist and ghost-writer. (That's right, I haunt prose.)
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4 Responses to the Chaplet: more historical royal headgear

  1. Pingback: christmas chaplets on “the Tudors” « tiaras and trianon

  2. Pingback: For a Few Chaplets More… (m@ style) « tiaras and trianon

  3. Pingback: Happy Saint Niklaus Day, 1762! « tiaras and trianon

  4. Pingback: Tiara Time! the Emerald Laurel Wreath Tiara | tiaras and trianon

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