Monday, December 7, 2009

Cross and Crown

We have woven the Holly into our celebrations of the holidays, and we see it reflected in the wonderful gifts created and offered by the BBEST team. Holly wreaths hung on a door or draped along a mantle represent welcome and long life to all who enter, says one ancient legend. As I decorated this weekend I found myself thinking about our wonderful BBEST Holly delights, and I thought I might take some time to learn a bit about Holly legends, and share both the stories and the crafty goodness with you!

Despite the prickly Holly leaves, I love to have decorate my mantle and windows with holly and evergreen pine. I always enjoy that incredible holiday smell, and now here is a way to enjoy the scent without worrying about drying greens in the house!

Druids believed that holly was a sacred plant. They thought that it stayed green year round because it was especially favored by the sun. One christian legend; however, says that one winter night the holly miraculously grew leaves out of season in order to hide the Holy Family from Herod's soldiers. Since then, it has been an evergreen as a token of Christ's gratitude. Our feathered friends certainly love the holly as well, and the bright green leaves and the red of the berries attract many feeders. Yankee Girl has immortalized this for us in her painting of Christmas Cardinals.

In Germany, holly is called Christdorn in memory of Christ's crown of thorns. According to legend, the holly's branches were woven into a painful crown and placed on Christ's head while the soldiers mocked him saying, "Hail, King of the Jews." The holly's berries used to be white but Christ's blood left them with a permanent crimson stain.

Holly Angel, offered by Nonnie's Treasures

Another legend about this plant says that a little orphan boy was living with the shepherds when the angels came to announce the birth of the newborn king. Having no gift for the baby, the child wove a crown of holly branches for its head. But when he lay it before Christ, he became ashamed of it's poverty and began to cry. Miraculously, Jesus touched the crown and it began to sparkle while the orphan's tears turned into beautiful scarlet berries.

Holly is said to be the tree used to make Christ’s cross. Legend has it that the other trees refused and splintered when touched by an ax whereas the holly remained true as a tree, and it is as a Passion symbol that the holly tree is seen in pictures of saints.

Though the holly is said to be a man's plant and is believed to bring good luck and protection to men while ivy brings the same to women, that doesn't stop me from enjoying it, and decorating not only my house but my EARS with the wonderful holiday red and green! These earrings are sure to bring a smile to anyone that loves the holidays!

Holly was hung about the doors and windows to keep away witches, spells, evil spirits, goblins, and lightning. On Christmas eve, English virgins hung holly on their beds to protect their virtue from Christmas goblins. However, elves and fairies were welcome in British households, and sprigs of holly were hung as hiding places for them. Romans gave gifts of holly to their friends during Saturnalia as good luck charms and protection against evil.

And thus, the Old English Carol that many of you may know - The Holly and the Ivy!

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.

The rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

The holly bears a blossom
As white as the lily flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet savior.

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good.

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas day in the morn.

The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.

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.

Holly Bear ACEO offered by BackRoom Treasures

I couldn't "bear" to leave you without a look at this wonderfully fun Holly Bear!

Whatever memories, legends, or traditions you may have, with Holly or other trappings of the season, here are wishes for the happiest of Holly Days to you all!


MagdaleneJewels said...

You blog truly reminds me that Christmas is right around the corner, and your beautiful choices make the anxiety and excitement even more enjoyable. I love pdf's cards, I already have purchaed aj's "Holly Berries" wax melts - it gives such a warm feeling as people walk into my house - thanks aj! Such other people choices also - going to go check out their shops.

Nonnie said...

Thank you, Kim. Such a lovely blog. Thank you for including me!

yankeegirl said...

Ooooh, I missed this one!! We have a huge holly tree in our side yard and I love it so I really enjoyed this feature. We cut it and place it all over inside and outside of the house the time of year. Thank you for including my Christmas Cardinal Watercolor.

Chauncey said...

wild, I love the way you did some weaving here yourself. Weaving the bbest team's holly into your informative post. Thanks for including my holly.

Judy Nolan said...

I'm coming to this post a little late, but really enjoyed all of the stories about holly--I had no idea! Wonderful BBEST selections, too. Thank you!