As winter sets in and the holidays approach, we begin to see traditional holiday plants and greenery everywhere we look. Holly, in particular, is often associated with winter, Christmas, and the month of December in general. But how did holly come to be so closely linked to these celebrations? If you think it’s just because of its red and green coloring, think again. There’s so much more to this fascinating plant. The experts at Adrian Durban Florist are happy to share some of our best insight about the history, symbolism, and usefulness of holly in December.
What Is Holly?
The holly plant, which can actually grow to tree-size status, has dark green leaves with multiple pointy edges that boasts bright red berries when fully mature. The leaves are thick and leathery, and the berries they produce are toxic for people and animals when eaten (though some winter birds, like robins, use them as a food source). This festive plant is commonly associated with Christmas today, though it has been part of other winter celebrations for centuries. When planted in the spring, holly keeps its luster throughout the winter season, making it ideal for decorating and displaying. Due to its popularity in winter, holly has become the official birth “flower” of December.
Holly Berries on Snowy Branch
What Does Holly Symbolize?
Not only is holly used to decorate for Christmas, but it is also a popular adornment for Winter Solstice rituals and celebrations. Holly was considered the sacred plant of Saturn, the God of agriculture and time in Ancient Rome. It was a popular decoration during the festival of Saturnalia and often given as gifts in a wreath. Early Roman Christians were said to have put Holly leaves on their doors in order to avoid persecution, but as Christianity slowly gained dominance, Holly became associated with the celebration of Christ’s birth in December. European pagans also used Holly in decoration and even put sprigs in their hair. They believed the green leaves and bright red berries kept the earth beautiful during a time when other plants went away.
How Can We Decorate with Holly?
There are plenty of great ways to decorate with holly, from placing boughs of holly throughout your home, on windowsills and fireplace mantles, to hanging wreaths made from holly on your front door. Sprigs of holly can even be worn as an accessory on clothing or in hair. We love to include holly as an accent in many of our holiday bouquets, as seen in our Flurry of Elegance bouquet and our Holly Halls Centerpiece. Coupled with other beautiful winter greens and reds, holly berries add a festive touch to any holiday design.
Flurry of Elegance Bouquet
Holly Halls Centerpiece
Choose to include holly in your holiday decorating this winter as a nod at age-old traditions, as well as the symbolism it has taken on in connection to Christmas. If you or someone you know has a December birthday, by all means- celebrate by sending them floral arrangements that include their birth flower! Talk to the floral designers at Adrian Durban Florist for more great ways to include holly in your decor this winter.