- Together with similar constructions of flowers and greenery, garlands are common elements of English customs, whether carried around the village on May Day, hung up as Christmas decorations or on Maypoles, carried at weddings and funerals, and even worn on the head as at Castleton, Derbyshire, and although individual customs may not be very old, garlands in general have a long history:Three ornaments belong principally to a wife. A ring on her finger, a brooch at her breast, and a garland on her head. The ring betokens true love, as I have said, the brooch betokens cleanness in heart and chastity that she ought to have, the garland betokens gladness and the dignity of the sacrament of wedlock. (Dives and Pauper, c.1405-10; spelling modernized)Less well-known examples of 19th century garlands include prizes at games in Yorkshire, and as a fishing industry custom where returning Whitby whalers fixed 'a garland or hoop fluttering with ribbons' from the masthead (Gutch, 1901: 57).See also *Abbotsbury garland day, *Castleton Garland day, *Christmas decorations, *funerals, *Maidens' Garlands, *May Day, *maypoles, *rushbearing, *weddings.■ Brears, 1989: 178-203.
A Dictionary of English folklore. Jacqueline Simpson & Steve Roud. 2014.