Holly, an ancient symbol for protection has become a Christmas tradition

Romans exchanged boughs as symbols of goodwill and friendship and decorated their houses and temples during the mid-winter feast "Saturnalia".

Ancient Chinese decorated with holly during their New Year festivals.

The pagan Druids of ancient Britain used the sacred holly ("holy") to repel evil spirits.

Early Christians forbade the use of pagan ritual but eventually changed the meaning of using holly to symbolize the crown of thorns and blood of Christ (wreaths).

Medieval England used holly on the exterior of doors and windows as protection from witchcraft.

Europeans also used holly for fortune-telling and to bring good fortune.

Settlers brought the tradition of decorating with "boughs of holly" to the USA from Great Britain.

The Native American holly was one of the first plants sighted by the Pilgrims.

Native Americans used holly as a symbol of courage, eternal life and protection.

Native Americans pinned sprigs of holly on the clothing of warriors to bring them home safely.

The spines symbolize fierceness, the wood toughness; the leaves symbolize courage and everlasting life.

Today people associate holly with the joy of celebration and sharing with family and friends. Decorating with holly is a Christmas tradition rich with history!

Care of Cut Holly

Cut holly will last for weeks if it is cared for properly. These hints may help:

If possible when you first receive the holly, moisten it and most preferably place it in water just as you would cut flowers.

Avoid placing it near heat sources and also avoid fruit, as the fruit sometimes gives off gasses that ripen the berries too quickly.

Holly prefers not to be frozen but if it has become frozen it is important to thaw it very slowly as it would in nature.

Floating sprigs in bowls of water is very effective.

Avoid placing holly on mantelpieces or around pictures unless it is cool and somehow kept moist.

Merry Christmas and Season's Greetings!

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