Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Why does the Holly Tree play an important part in Christmas tradition?

Holly Tree for Christmas.

Flowering in May, the holly tree is a dioecious plant (both male and female plants) and is prized throughout history for having distinctive dark shiny green leaves and red berries. Supporting wildlife during the winter months with it's berries, winter food for many berry eating birds (poisonous to humans). Festive imagery of the holly tree was introduced to Christmas cards during Victorian times, though association with the festive period dates back to pagan times when it was customary to bring holly boughs to desk out the home.

Traditional holly, Ilex Awuifolium, is good for security around boundaries. It is the traditional Christmas holly with bright red berries that many of us are familiar with.


Further varieties of holly include Ilex Alaska, Ilex Golden King, Ilex aquifolium Gold Flash, Ilex aquifolium Ferox Argentea, Ilex J C Van Tol, Ilex Madame Briot, Ilex meserveae Blue Angel and Ilex Silver Queen.

The holly tree connection with Christmas is towards the Christian symbolism connecting the prickly leaves of the holly with Jesus' crown of it's thorns and berries with the drops of his blood shed for human salvation. It is also recorded that before the 1800's, that a Christmas tree was in fact actually a holly tree, not a common fir tree as many of us are used to today. Throughout history, Holly has been used to symbolize the likes of holiness to gaining revenge, beauty, goodwill, health and peace. Holly was believed to be an effective charm to ward off witches, bad spirits and ill-fortune and for this reason it was often planted close to homes and outbuildings.

No comments:

Post a Comment