What It Really Means to Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly Each Christmas age-old traditions are repeated, filling us with a sense of wonder and nostalgia. Some of these traditions, from songs and stories to customs and decor, date back centuries. In some cases, like with the use of holly to decorate, the meaning has changed over time. Prior to the Christmas traditions we associate with it today, holly was used in ancient Celtic, pagan, Roman and Druid ceremonies and mythology. With such rich traditions behind this unassuming plant, the floral experts at Allan’s Flowers decided to spend some time discussing holly, its meaning and how to include it in your decorating as you prepare for the holidays this winter.

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What is Holly?

Holly is an evergreen shrub or tree that bears glossy, thick green leaves with serrated edges year-round. They thrive in sunlight and don’t need a ton of water, making them easy to grow. While both the male and female hollies bloom with white flowers in the spring, only the females bear the red berries often seen during the winter holidays. While these berries are toxic to humans (and most household pets), the leaves have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries in many cultures. Most commonly, holly is recognized among Christmas decor for its natural red and green color combination and evergreen properties.


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Holly Berries on Snowy Branch


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Holly Wreath


What Does Holly Symbolize?

Over time, holly has symbolized many different things to different cultures. For example, the Druids believed holly to be a sacred bush since it grew in the dead of winter when nothing else did. Ancient Romans considered the holly plant to bring good luck and would often give wreaths of holly to newlyweds. In ancient Chinese culture, holly was used to decorate for New Year’s celebrations in winter, as well. Now, of course, we associate holly with the celebration of Christmas, and some Christian theologians have even associated the thorny leaves with the crown of thorns Christ wore at his death, while the berries represent his blood given in sacrifice. Regardless of the intended symbolism, you can plan on seeing plenty of holly in and around your area during the Christmas holiday season.

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How Can We Decorate with Holly?

Decorating with evergreen winter plants like holly is simple and versatile. The colors lend themselves to traditional Christmas decor naturally, so including holly in a floral arrangement like our Holly Jolly Ornament Bouquet just makes sense. We can get creative with laying boughs of holly on our windowsills and fireplace mantles, placing wreaths of holly on our front doors, or gracing our tables with a floral design like our Classic Holly Ornament. Due to the traditions surrounding this winter favorite, it’s easy to see why holly is officially December’s birth “flower.”


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Holly Jolly Ornament Bouquet


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Classic Holly Ornament


Whether you’re decorating with holly to stay in step with tradition or just to add a festive spirit to your home for the holidays, you can be sure that this long-lasting evergreen will be a welcomed addition to any holiday decor. For more creative insight about decorating with holly this holiday season, talk to the floral designers at Allan’s Flowers. We’re here to offer ideas, advice and of course, holly-infused floral bouquets this season.


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