Hollies in folklore
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.