During Christmastime, everyone likes to decorate their homes and yards. Many people enjoy using the natural beauty of plants, flowers and vines as decoration. Unbeknownst to many people, some of the most popular plants in Christmas traditions & history, the holly and the ivy, have deep roots in history.
Winter Solstice, the pagan celebration which preceded the Christmas we now know today, was the first major holiday in which people used these special plants. The people who celebrated the Winter Solstice believed very strongly in ghosts and evil spirits. It was widely believed that the use of plants now seen in Christmas traditions & history: the holly and the ivy specifically, as well as mistletoe and other evergreen plants, had the ability to keep evil spirits, ghosts and malevolent beings at bay.
Throughout all the plants seen in Christmas traditions & history: the holly and the ivy seem to be the most important. The holly plant has leaves which are seen as a symbol of the thorny crown Jesus Christ wore during his crucifixion, and the brightly colored red berries are meant to signify droplets of blood. They were displayed by Christians during the wintertime while the Christmas holiday was banned by British Puritans. They were not called holly back then. They were simply gathered in bunches and referred to as “holy” plants, due to their Christian symbolism. In modern times, we now know these green plants with their red berries as holly.
The mistletoe is another ivy-like plant popularly used during the Christmas season. Its botanical name is viscum album. By the time the eighteenth century came around, it was being used as a seasonal decoration, dressed up with ornaments, ribbon and other embellishments such as bright red apples. Mistletoe is a poisonous plant, though it was once thought in ancient times to possess magical power. Many people hung mistletoe in their homes in order to keep out evil spirits and bring blessings for the spring season. Today, the plant is commonly hung in a doorway for the fun and mischievous tradition of those standing under it to steal a kiss. No matter what type of fun things you like to do for Christmas traditions & history: the holly and the ivy will always remain lovely and historical natural decorations for the home, garden, or anywhere.