THE HANGING OF GREENS – HOLLY
The hanging of greens, such as Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe is a British winter tradition with origins long before the Christian era.
Greenery was used to lift people's spirits during the long winter and remind them that spring was not far away.
Although holly is the only traditional decorative green which remains of the once famous duo of Holly and Ivy both have an ancient association with the winter festivities.
The Romans used holly during their Solstice celebration, known as Saturnalia and it had a close association with the God Dionysus.
Holly boughs were given as gifts during Saturnalia as it was believed to protect against lightening strikes and ward off evil spirits.
The Druids also held holly in very high esteem as a plant of death and regeneration.
The ancient custom was to decorate the doorway with intertwined garlands of holly and ivy which represented unity between the dual halves of divinity the Holly with its red berries representing the color of life and life's blood was the Goddess and female while Ivy was the eternal representation of consort to the goddess and there fore was masculine in nature.
The Tradition stands that the first in the household whether male or female to bring Holly into the house would rule the roost for the coming year.
When Christianity spread across Europe, holly became synonymous with the word "holy."
It invoked great symbolism, its prickly leaves represented the crown of thorns worn by Jesus and the bright red berries represent the drops of blood He shed on the cross.
Legend tells that the berries of the holly plant were once yellow in color but were stained red by the blood of Christ.
Holly as with all the evergreen's holly symbolizes eternal life.