Making Wreaths Is a 50-Year Tradition in Cambridge Area

  Kimberly Carlyle, Church News contributor

  • CAMBRIDGE, MASS.

A completed wreath sits on a table during the 50th wreath-making party in Cambridge, Mass.  Photo by Elisa Perry.

A Christmas tradition that started 50 years ago this December is still cherished and celebrated by Relief Society sisters in the Cambridge-Boston area.

The annual event includes making wreaths and a program with remarks, special musical performances, and carol singing.

Alice Karas, 88, remembers the first night of the activity, where Naomi Cranney, a long-time resident of nearby Belmont, Mass., taught the sisters how to wrap evergreen branches on frames to make wreaths.

Relief Society sisters and members of the community participate in a 50-year tradition of making wreaths. Photo by Elisa Perry.

“The smell of pine, the pitch on our hands, and the fact that everyone loved to come—that was wreath making,” said Sister Karas.n the 50 years since, the Cambridge Branch grew to become the Cambridge Massachusetts Stake. The annual wreath-making party endured and was replicated by several Cambridge stake Relief Societies, including those of the Belmont, Arlington, and Cambridge wards.

Committees began planning months in advance for the program. Other committees planed simple and elegant decorations, and savory and sweet party foods. And they planned for the delivery of bales of evergreens—fresh from New England tree farms.

Over the years, the sisters have enthusiastically invited their friends and neighbors to come to the wreath-making party. It has become a crucial community outreach event and missionaries are always on hand through the evening to meet people and answer questions. Linda Turco of Belmont invited 10 friends and neighbors to come this year.

Relief Society sisters and members of the community participate in a 50-year tradition of making wreaths. Photo by Elisa Perry.

“I know my neighbors will feel the Spirit at wreath making,” she said. “I want everyone to know that Latter-day Saints celebrate the birth of our Savior and that during the Christmas season, in particular, we sing His praises.”

With time, a unique idea formed to invite non-LDS friends not just to attend the wreath-making event but also to help plan and execute it.

“We have found that our non-member neighbors are often surprised and delighted by invitations to serve alongside us rather than simply being our guests at the party,” observed Laurie Low of the Belmont 2nd ward.

As the women work side-by-side, planning and enjoying the annual event, their laughter and conversation knits the community together and illustrates the LDS values of love and fellowship embodied by the Savior.

Jacque White, a sister from the Springfield Ward who drives 90 minutes to attend each year, noted the unity the activity brings.

“A strong spirit of sisterhood is exactly how I describe wreath making to my friends and neighbors. There is no better way to introduce someone to our beliefs than through this sparkling, Spirit-filled evening,” she said.

A traditional wreath-making party includes a program full of special musical numbers, carol singing, and remarks from members and friends in the Cambridge Massachusetts Stake. Photo by Elisa Perry.