Hol­lies in folk­lore

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Plant Profile Holly -

An­cient man was in awe of this in­cred­i­ble plant that de­fied the el­e­ments. When the world was frozen and de­cid­u­ous trees and shrubs noth­ing more than bare branches,

holly shone, not only re­tain­ing its glossy leaves but also pro­duc­ing scar­let fruits. The red berries were re­put­edly able to ward off evil spir­its, so holly trees were planted by cot­tage door­ways. Through­out Europe hol­lies have been planted close to houses to de­ter light­ning strikes as holly was associated with the thun­der gods. Sci­ence has proved that the spines of holly leaves can act as tiny light­ning con­duc­tors, so there is some foun­da­tion for their use.

Peo­ple also be­lieved witches crossed the coun­try­side along the top of hedgerows, so to block their pas­sage, hol­lies were al­lowed to grow above the hedge line.

Al­though it has al­ways been con­sid­ered very bad luck to chop down a holly tree, branches could be cut for sea­sonal rit­ual and prac­ti­cal pur­poses. Placed around an­i­mal pens, they were used to pro­tect live­stock.

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