A Sentiment

God knew what He was doing when He sent a gentle breeze and brought a lovely butterfly to set my heart at ease. The happiness of your friendship and the gentleness of your words have touched my life in special ways and now I feel assured. Thank you for your loyalty and for reading everyday. I only hope you find things to make a happy day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly

Holly has become almost synonymous with the holiday season. Its bright red berries and shiny green leaves are found on holiday wrapping paper, greeting cards, and of course, live in garden shops.
But did you know that "decking the halls with holly" is an ancient custom several thousand years old? The ancient Romans, Greeks, and Druids all decorated their homes with this plant.
The Druids of pre-Roman Britain believed that holly was a sacred tree that was never deserted by the sun. That belief stemmed from the fact that holly growing in a deciduous forest remained green all winter long.
The Romans considered holly to be a symbol of good will and sent wreaths of it to newlyweds as a token of good wishes and congratulations. Holly also was used during the Festival of Saturn, which was held each year beginning on Dec. 17 to honor the Roman god of sowing and husbandry.
Decorating with holly during midwinter was a custom of the Chinese, too, who used their native holly for decorating temple courts and large halls during their New Year's festivals in February.
Europeans, especially the British, continued the tradition of decorating with holly--a word many scholars believe is a corruption of the words "holy tree"--during their Yuletide season. Writings from 1598 reveal that "every man's house, the parish churches, the corners of streets, and marketplaces in London were decorated with English holly during the Christmas season." Even stables and beehives were adorned with a sprig or two.
The American Indians made use of the American holly for decorations. In areas where it was native, the berries were dried and used for decorations on clothing.
Unfortunately, in the past, many hollies were destroyed by plunderers cutting wild holly with little concern for the owner of the tree. In the last few decades, holly orchards have been developed in the Pacific Northwest where English holly will grow. In fact, that's where most of the holly sold in Vermont is grown. Other holly orchards have been developed in the Southeast where American holly or other varieties of holly thrive.
Believe it or not, some of the better-managed orchards are reported to yield up to 3,000 pounds of holly per acre for sale to the Christmas trade!
For years I had a huge box delivered to me just before Christmas. It was from my dear friend and former neighbor, Ruth. She was my back door neighbor for years, before moving to Georgia in her old age. Just before Christmas she would send me this big box full of holly, from her yard in Georgia. It was presented so nicely. She lined the box with some beautiful Christmas tissue, and then laid the holly in the box. There were packages of pot pourri, and sometimes incense...everything that smelled good. She always added a little dash of glitter, Ruth loved glitter! On top of all that she would lay some beautiful ribbon made into a bow. I looked forward to her box every year. She really knew how to make Christmas special and how to make people happy.



Kathiesbirds said...

Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I see you have a dog named Laddie. Is he, perchance a collie? I had one years ago named Laddie Boy after Albert Payson Terhune's dog, Lad, which is why I first ever fell in love with Collies. I don't have one now, but I keep thinking of how I would love to have one again. I love the photo in your header by the way. The Holly photo and info are very nice also. Happy Thanksgiving!

Balisha said...

Hi Kathie,
Laddie is an English Springer Spaniel. He is my constant companion...always by my feet...sometimes under my feet.LOL
Have a nice Thanksgiving too!
Come back again.