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Why is holly associated with Christmas?


Qiziyi007 | CC0

Philip Kosloski - published on 12/09/17

The symbolism of the holly plant is deeply tied to Christianity.

One of the many symbols of the Christmas season is holly. The small plant can be found in many different places in the world and has ties to antiquity and the Christian religion.

The Druids in particular thought holly was a sacred plant and could protect against evil spirits. For this reason they would often wear holly in their hair, occasionally as a wreath upon the head.

With Christianity the plant took on a new meaning. The red berries were thought to represent the blood of Christ and the prickly leaves symbolized the crown of thorns. According to a legend, “the palm leaves of the crowds in Jerusalem turned into spring holly twigs when the ‘Hosanna’ to the Christ changed into ‘Crucify him!'”

In different parts of Europe holly became known as “Christ Thorn” on account of this symbolism.

The fruit of the holly ripens in winter and so the plant, while connected symbolically to Christ’s passion, became associated with Christmas. It is a great reminder during this Christmas season that while Christ came into the world as a little child, he came so as to save us from our sins and ultimately make the perfect sacrifice of himself.


Read more:
Where did candy canes come from?

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