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Holly and Ivy

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"The Holly and the Ivy" is a familiar Christmas tune, but the association of holly and ivy goes back before Christianity became big, to midwinter solstice festivals. Both Druids and Romans considered holly to be sacred. Druids incorporated holly in their midwinter festivals. Romans considered holly to be the plant of Saturn, and the Roman festival of Saturnalia coincided with the midwinter solstice.

Like many pre-Christian symbols and traditions, this one was infused with Christian meaning. The lyrics of the Christmas carol illustrate this.

"The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown."

Holly and ivy bloomed year-round and were associated with new life or rebirth, and this idea fit in well with the Christian celebration of Christmas as the birth of Jesus.


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