The Tradition of Christmas Holly

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Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved Holly trees. I used to climb one when I was little and one now grows right outside of my apartment window.

So, it’s my pleasure today to wish you a Happy Holly Day!

Decorating with holly in December is an ancient tradition that pre-dates the celebration of Christmas.

The ancient Romans brought holly into their homes for the winter festival of Saturnalia, to honor the god, Saturn. The prickly leaves were thought to protect the inhabitants of the house.

Holly also figured in Celtic and Norse pagan rituals associated with Yuletide. Even today, it’s common to see Holly on Yule Logs, although the ones you see today are usually made of cake and frosting, instead of wood!

The traditional Christmas colors of red and green come from the ancient use of holly in these ancient December celebrations. Evergreen holly is associated with everlasting life. These pagan traditions were incorporated into Christian customs. Holly red berries symbolize vitality; for early Christians, the color red became associated with the blood of Christ.


Here is a Christmas Song about Holly…I am sure you know it. Here is the great Nat King Cole singing Deck the Halls


And here is a Holly poem for today…

The Story of the Holly Sprig
by Arthur Upson

“I’d be the shiniest green,”
Wished once a sprig of holly,
“That e’er at Yule was seen,
And deck some banquet jolly!”

“I’d be the cheeriest red,”
Wished once the holly-berry,
“That e’er at board rich spread
Helped make the feasters merry!”

The life within them heard
Down dark and silent courses,
For each wish is a word
To those fair-hidden sources.

All Summer in the wood
While they were riper growing,
The deep roots understood,
And helped without their knowing.

In a little market stall
At Yule the sprig lay waiting,
For fine folk one and all
Passed by that open grating.

The Eve of Christmas Day
It had been passed by many,
When one turned not away
And bought it for a penny.

Hers was a home of care
Which not a wreath made jolly;
The only Christmas there
Was that sweet sprig of holly.

“Oh, this is better far
Than banquet!” thought the berry;
The leaves glowed like a star
And made the cottage merry!

This poem is in the public domain.

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