At this time of year, evergreen holly with it’s prickly leaves and bright red berries is front and center!
Romans gifted Christmas holly to their friends during Saturnalia as a sign of good luck charms and safety against evil.
How did it come to be associated with Christmas you ask? Well, long, long ago Christians believed that Holly helped in driving away the evil spirits as it was endowed with magical powers. During Christmas time, the Holly was hung on doors and windows to prevent the entry of witches and evil spirits.
We continue to this day, to hang evergreen wreaths on our doors and windows at Christmastime.
Holly also became associated with the Christmas festival. Christmas festival was a time to celebrate and enjoy. The entire month of December was utilized to prepare for the Christmas festival.
Because of its evergreen foliage, it was believed that the Christmas holly plant was sanctified. According to Christians, one winter night, the holly amazingly grew leaves in off-season to hide the Holy Family from Herod's armed forces. Since then, it has been an evergreen Christmas plant indicative of Christ's gratefulness. Christmas Holly is also said to be the tree of Christ's cross.
Germans believed that its twigs were woven into an agonizing crown and placed on Christ's skull and its berries were white until Christ's blood left them with a permanent red color.
Holly came to symbolize the crown of thorns Jesus was forced to wear on his head. While the leaves of the plant represented the crown of thorns, the red berries symbolized the blood that he shed in this world.
Holiday wreaths have long been made by twisting or bending evergreen branches into a circular shape. In Christianity, the holiday wreath represents the circle, a symbol of eternity. When made of evergreen leaves and branches, the wreaths symbolize everlasting life with the green color symbolizing hope and new life. During the 15th century, the wreath began to be used as a hanging decoration.
Evergreen plants, such as holly, ivy, pine, and even magnolia, have long been used to create holiday wreaths.
Traditional Christmas wreaths are a symbol of faith. There circular form symbolizes God's eternity and mercy during the Christmas season. When decorated with evergreen leaves and branches they also represent everlasting life and God's everlasting love.
Merry Christmas everyone!