There are certain aspects of the holidays that we simply can’t do without. From carols we sing, cookies we bake and decorations we hang, there are some things which, without them, it’s just not Christmas. Holly has taken its place as a respected staple in holiday decor, and there are plenty of reasons why. This evergreen plant is easy to include in every aspect of decorating, plus it has a long history of cultural significance, even before the Christmas holiday was observed. The floral experts at Flower Kingdom love working with holly this time of year, and we’re here to share some of this plant’s richest legends with you, too.
What is Holly?
Holly is a shrub-like tree that can grow up to 10-15 feet in height. Its leaves are thick and leathery, with serrated edges and spiky points. The female versions of the tree produce the red berries we’re so used to seeing everywhere at Christmastime. The berries, though toxic to humans and most household pets, are a food sources for some birds in the winter, like robins. Birds also love to nest in holly trees during the winter months, when other trees don’t have leaves to provide warmth and protection. The evergreen nature of this tree has earned it a reputation for being enduring, if not a bit magical, throughout history.
Holly Berries on Snowy Branch
What Does Holly Symbolize?
The Holly tree is one of the most beloved, respected trees in Celtic mythology and is the evergreen twin of the Oak. It is said that whilst the Oak was the controller of the light half of the year, the Holly tree controlled the dark, winter months. For centuries this magical tree has been represented by a Holly wreath which was worn as a crown by Celtic chieftains for good luck. Traditionally, it was used to protect newborn babies from harm by bathing them in the water from the leaves. Before holly was hung in houses to accompany Christmas trees, it was considered to be a sacred plant by the Druids. The Druids regarded holly as a symbol of fertility and eternal life, thought to have magical powers.
Holly Wreath on Old Door
Today, Christians have adopted the holly tree as a symbol for Christmas. The sharp leaves are said to symbolize the crown of thorns worn by Christ, while the berries represent his blood. The evergreen quality of the tree is metaphoric for eternal life.
Wreath of Holly
How Can We Decorate with Holly?
Holly makes any arrangement look beautiful and brings out the holiday spirit. It brightens the arrangement and accents it with radiance. It can be used to make wreaths, hang on doors and stairs, decorate a Christmas tree or just in a cube vase by itself. We love to include holly in many of our holiday bouquets, as an accent like in our Flurry of Elegance bouquet or more prominently as seen in our Christmas Wishes Centerpiece. Plus, holly is the official birth “flower” for December. So be sure to send a holly-infused bouquet to friends or loved ones with a December birthday this month!
Christmas Wishes Centerpiece
The traditions involving holly come from a long-standing reverence for this tree and continue to this day. When you decorate with holly at Christmastime, you maintain traditions that are centuries old. Choose a few new ways to include an old tradition in your holiday decor this year. For more tips and creative ideas about decorating with holly, talk to the floral designers at Flower Kingdom. We’re happy to show you new ways to work with holly and share our favorite legends about this amazing little tree, as well.