Holly, Ivy and Greenery
In Northern Europe Christmas occurred during the middle of winter, when ghosts and demons could be heard howling in the winter winds.
Boughs of holly, believed to have magical powers since they remained green through the harsh winter, were often placed over the doors of homes to drive evil away.
Greenery was also brought indoors to freshen the air and brighten the mood during the long, dreary winter.
The word means ‘to adorn’ and is from the 16th century, but the seasonal meaning of ‘to deck with ornamental accessories’ dates from the 18th century.
The word originates from the Latin decoratus (beautify).
Heigh ho! sing heigh ho! unto the green holly,
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.
Then heigh ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly!
Song of the Holly by William Shakespeare
Fir trees decorated with apples were first known in Strasbourg in 1605, and the first use of candles on trees is recorded by a Silesian duchess in 1611.
It is believed that the Romans were the first to hang wreaths on their doors as a symbol of victory in battles and evergreens were placed inside homes to remind people that spring is coming.
By the Georgian and Regency Eras, some homes had a kissing bough hung over a doorway or a chandelier. A kissing bough was constructed from evergreens and decorated with apples, paper flowers, or dolls which represented Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus and was held together by ribbon and wire.
Today, we often decorate the inside of our homes with green garlands, holly, mistletoe, red amaryllis, Christmas cactus and the amazing Poinsettia.
In Mexico especially, poinsettia plants symbolize Christmas.
Angel Christmas Greenery suzilove.com
Legend also has it that holly sprang from the footsteps of Christ as he walked the earth. The pointed leaves were said to represent the crown of thorns Christ wore while on the cross and the red berries symbolized the blood he shed.