A laurel wreath is a round wreath made of connected branches and leaves of the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), an aromatic broadleaf evergreen, or later from spineless butcher's broom (Ruscus hypoglossum) or cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus). It is a symbol of triumph and is worn as a chaplet around the head, or as a garland around the neck.
The symbol of the laurel wreath traces back to Ancient Greece. In Greek mythology, the god Apollo, who is patron of lyrical poetry, musical performance and skill-based athletics, is conventionally depicted wearing a laurel wreath on his head in all three roles. Wreaths were awarded to victors in athletic competitions, including the ancient Olympics; for victors in athletics they were made of wild olive tree known as "kotinos" (κότινος), (sc. at Olympia) – and the same for winners of musical and poetic competitions. In Rome they were symbols of martial victory, crowning a successful commander during his triumph. Whereas ancient laurel wreaths are most often depicted as a horseshoe shape, modern versions are usually complete rings.
In common modern idiomatic usage, a laurel wreath or “crown” refers to a victory. The expression “resting on one’s laurels” refers to someone relying entirely on long-past successes for continued fame or recognition, where to “look to one’s laurels” means to be careful of losing rank to competition.