12.24.2004

The Holly Myths

"The holly berry that shines so red
Once was white as wheaten bread."

-traditional


The holly we know, Ilex aquifolium (English Holly) is the largest and brightest in winter with evergreen leaves and bright red berries. Because of its evergreen leaves, it has always been associated with winter magic. Throughout Europe, it was believed to repel evil a belief that lingers yet today. For many of us, the sight of a holly tree or bush is enlightening. Many will bring a holly wreath into our homes during Yule or Christmastime because it makes a great place for the faeries to play. The wreaths also await the arrival of the winter elf king Santa. While some consider it unlucky to leave the holly wreaths up past Twelfth Night and burn the wreath on New Year’s Eve, others believe that keeping a sprig from a wreath used as decoration in a church will bring luck throughout the year.

It’s known that the Celts believed the Holly King ruled winter and death while the Oak King ruled summer and life. If we look at the 2 trees it seems the holly is at its peak during Yule standing out with its red berries and dark, shiny leaves while the oak stands naked and bare, but the opposite is true. With the onset of Yule, holly is on the decline and oak is on the rise, and on summer solstice oak is in its splendor while the holly is hidden by all the other forest foliage.

There’s also the tale of Mother Holly and her mischievous cat. According to this lore, the cat is blamed for bad weather because he gets into Mother Holly's things and finally eats her corn. When she learns of his troublemaking, she doesn’t punish him because the corn he ate caused his tummy to rumble like thunder which makes her content..

Then there’s my holly story.

Every year there’s a place I look forward to passiing by. It’s a house in town with a beautiful holly tree in the front corner of the yard. This tree is probably 20 feet tall and is a perfectly groomed cone. I love its blackish-green evergreen leaves and bright red, jewel-like berries that pop out. It’s especially lovely when frosted with snow, or at night when the hundreds of white lights that adorn it are lit.

Each year I always swore to get a photo of this magnificent tree. And, this was to be, the year (pay attention to the 'was to be.') I’ve learning to master my digi cam and have had luck getting lots of good shots which you can see at Flickr.com by looking under ctb57. So, yesterday was the day. There was about 6 inches of fresh snow, and it was a perfect evening to make my shots. Imagine my shock, dismay and displeasure when I arrived at my destination only to find this magnificent holly replaced by a $49.99 white-lit Walmart pine. Bah humbug!

2 Comments:

Anonymous Fraser Fir Christmas Trees said...

Dear coldteablues, isn't the internet amazing? I was out looking for info and sites related to christmastreeshop and the search put up your post 'The Holly Myths'. Whilst it's not exactly what I was looking for I can see why it came up when I searched on christmastreeshop and other terms. Just thought I'd let you know I stopped by. Bye for now and thanks for a good read!

3:44 PM  
Anonymous blue rose said...

Hi there,

I just ran across your site and enjoyed reading through everything.

I'm trying to get a blog going on my site too. But I dont think i have the patience to do it!

--Amy
My perennial flowers Site

12:59 PM  

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