Wreaths have a long history in the western world. They were worn and awarded in ancient Greece and Rome as a sign of status or achievement, and are still associated with festival costume. I have a wreath of dried flowers for my Renn fest costume that I still dust off every year.
The history of the Advent wreath may go back as early as the middle ages, but the earliest recorded instance was in 1839. A chap named Johann Hinrich Wichern, a missionary to the poor in Germany, wanted to explain the meaning and purpose of Christmas to children, so he used a cart wheel with four candles to help the children count down the weeks to the coming of Christmas. He even added candles for every day in between Sunday, which I imagine you could fit on a cart wheel, though it would be difficult to fit on my dining room table.*
If you can count (and if you’ve gotten through clue 2 without counting, I’ll be very impressed), you might have guessed what the shapes rising out of the brim will become. If not, all will be revealed in clue 3, tomorrow.
*Full disclosure – all the research for this post came from Wikipedia. If you have more authoritative sources, please straighten me right out!