why do we have holly at christmas
Why do we decorate with holly at Christmas? BY Before holly was hung in houses to accompany Christmas trees, it was considered to be a sacred plant by the Druids. While other plants wilted in winter weather, holly remained green and strong, its berries a brightly colored red in the harshest of conditions. The Druids regarded holly as a symbol of fertility and eternal life, thought to have magical powers. In Druid lore, cutting down a holly tree would bring bad luck. In contrast, hanging the plant in homes was believed to bring good luck and protection. Holly was also thought to protect homes against lightning strikes. Romans associated holly with Saturn, the god of agriculture and harvest, and decked the halls with its boughs during the festival of Saturnalia. Early Christian calendars mark Christmas Eve as templa exornatur, meaning Бchurches are decked,Б though supposedly Saturnalia celebrators didnБt allow some Christians to hang boughs in honor of Christmas. Christians adopted the holly tradition from Druid, Celtic and Roman traditions, and its symbolism changed to reflect Christian beliefs. Today, Christians consider holly symbolic of Jesus Christ in two ways.
The red berries represent the blood that Jesus shed on the cross on the day he was crucified. Legend states that holly berries were originally white, but that the blood Christ shed for the sins of humankind stained the berries forever red. A holly s pointed leaves symbolize the crown of thorns placed on Jesus head before he died on the cross. Holly is known as christdorn in German, meaning Christ thorn. Both of these symbols are meant to serve as a reminder to Christians of Jesus suffering, but they aren t the only stories tying holly to Jesus. One claims that the cross on which Jesus was crucified was constructed of holly. Another says that holly sprang up from his footsteps. Less common symbolism includes the holly s white blossoms representing purity, and the idea that if the holly used to decorate a home for Christmas is prickly, the man will rule the house for the coming year; but if the holly used is smooth, the woman will rule. HereБs hoping you decorate with holly thatБs a little smooth and prickly!
Holly and ivy are common Christmas foliage with history dating back centuries. After finding a holly plant in my front yard, I did a little digging (mind the pun) to find out more.
Both holly and ivy existed before Christianity and were used to celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival (the shortest day of the year). Holly, the sacred plant of Saturn (the god of agriculture and harvest), was hung on windows and doorways to ward off evil spirits and witches. Holly wreaths were exchanged in Roman times, and Druids wore holly sprigs their hair whenever they went to the forest. Druids believed that the pretty, evergreen holly, kept the world looking beautiful when the other deciduous trees lost their leaves and looked decidedly dull. Not only that, holly represented fertility and eternal life. It even had magical powers. Chopping a holly tree down was bad luck, yet displaying wreaths in your home brought good luck. Holly was said to ward off pesky goblins, used as a charm against thunder and lightning, and even made into a tonic for the common cough. Howling, icy winds in the midst of a dark winter were believed to be ghosts and demons and holly would fend these evil spirits away. Not only do we sing the carol, you ll see a holly sprig in most wreaths, Christmas wrapping paper patterns and street decorations.
So, why do we deck the halls with boughs of holly each Christmas anyway, in the Christian sense? To avoid persecution, Christians would liberally display holly in their homes (however taking on their own meaning the green spiky leavesP representing the thorny crown of Jesus,P and the red berries representing drops of blood from those thorns). Over time, holly lost its Pagan association and Christian custom took on its own interpretation. And why does the holly and the ivy make such a pair? P Holly with its prickly leaves (male) and Ivy with smooth edges, also known as she holly (female) are said to be a great match. Closer to reality though, I note that holly in New Zealand is deemed to be evasive over other plants (particularly natives). In fact, when you do cut one down (which is extremely bad luck as you would have read unless you crossed your fingers in the process) the branches are to be collected and stacked as any contact with the ground, branches are likely to root themselves and sprout another generation of tree. I shall take heed, and keep a close eye on my Holly tree.
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