Much like the mistletoe and the Christmas tree, holly is also a popular Christmas symbol. Holly twigs, cherries and leaves are usually used to adorn wreaths; can be hung on doors and some people also use these to decorate gift boxes.
The holly plant has hundreds of species and most people use this as part of their landscaping at home. Holly sizes can be as small as six inches tall and these are called holly shrubs, while holly trees can grow as tall as seven feet high.
There are even those that can grow up to a maximum of nine feet high and this variety belongs to the Japanese holly plant family. Some of the tallest hollies however can grow up to sixty feet tall and these usually belong to the American holly family.
Hollies for Christmas
There are numerous accounts as to how hollies became a symbol for Christmas but one that stands out tells the story of how Christians adorned their homes with holly to avoid being persecuted by pagan Romans.
In the early centuries, holly was offered by pagan Romans to the god Saturn hence; Christians used this centuries later to perhaps show the Romans that they still remain as pagans and have not been converted to Christianity – even if they were secretly celebrating the birth of Jesus in December.
Christian symbolism also regards holly as a reminder for Jesus’ sacrifice, with the red cherries symbolizing Christ’s blood while the leaves symbolize the crown of thorns Jesus was made to wear during His persecution and climb up to Mt. Calvary.
Lore has it that the berries used to be white in color but the blood of Jesus turned the berries into red.
• Hollies are believed to bring males good fortune and protection.
• In Western England, holly sprigs are placed on a girl’s bed on the night before Christmas to ward off mischievous goblins.
• Germans on the other hand see hollies that have adorned churches provide protection against lightning.
• There’s a British tradition where people put holly sprigs on beehives because they are of the belief that the bees hummed a melodious tune on the very 1st Christmas to pay homage to the birth of Jesus.
• Holly is also known as Christdorn to symbolize the crown of thorns Jesus wore during His Passion and Death.
There are many other tales that provide some sort of explanation as to how and why hollies are regarded as a symbol for Christmas. Whatever the story however, hollies are popular during Christmastime and they are excellent decorations for the holiday season.