Happy Hollydays!

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The theme of this season for me is “running late”. So here we are on Christmas Eve and I am only getting around to writing a “blog break” post.

There is no more true desire in the hearts of humankind, in my mind, than Peace on Earth and Good Will toward Folks.

In previous years, we have had images of Christmas trees and Yule logs. This year, I’ll honor another tree, the holly.

As in the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, in the words of Ebenezer Scrooge:

Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”

And the hymn, The Holly and The Ivy that begins

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.

Refrain:
Oh, the rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir.

Or the Youtube version here.

Prior to Christianity, in England, apparently there were village traditions that involved the holly and the ivy as well,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holly_and_the_Ivy

And from here:
Holly trees were traditionally known for protection from lightning strikes, to which end they were planted near a house. In European mythology, holly was associated with thunder gods such as Thor and Taranis. We now know that the spines on the distinctively-shaped holly leaves can act as miniature lightning conductors, thereby protecting the tree and other nearby objects. Modern science occasionally catches up with an explanation for what may previously have been dismissed as
superstitious lore!

“But the hue of his every feature
Stunned them: as could be seen,
Not only was this creature
Colossal, he was bright green
No spear to thrust, no shield against the shock of battle,
But in one hand a solitary branch of holly
That shows greenest when all the groves are leafless;”
from ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ ca 1370 – 1390, author unknown

“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.”
from ‘As You Like It’ by William Shakespeare

Well, that’s English Holly.. here’s the link to the silvics of American Holly. Here’s a photo of how it appears in the understory of various eastern hardwood forests.
holly in beech forest

Happy Hollydays, everyone!
I’ll be back to blogging on January 6.

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