Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Holly and the Ivy

We are finally at Christmas Eve, that most lovely of days when the greenery is brought into the house.  Before the advent of the Christmas fir tree in the nineteenth century, Christmas was celebrated starting with the holly, ivy and mistletoe being brought into the house.    In the middle of winter when nothing much is growing and the trees are bare, we still have these plants to help us bring joy.  Holly was sacred to druids who associate it with the winter solstice.   The bringing in of the holly and ivy has been taking place in England since at least the fifteenth century and probably even before that.
Then candles are lit to bring light into the darkest days of the year.  The Christmas symbols, the pagan holly and ivy and the Christian symbols of the season are just wonderfully intertwined.

"When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things - not the great occasions - give off the greatest glow of happiness."
- Bob Hope

I also make pomanders out of oranges and cloves to decorate the mantelpiece each year.  The smell is intoxicating!

"Christmas--that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance--a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved."
- Augusta E. Rundell
"At Christmas, all roads lead home." ~ Marjorie Holmes

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