Monday, November 28, 2011

Ilex Aquifolium

As a nod to the continuation of the holiday season I thought it pertinent to post about Holly, as I myself knew little to nothing about the plant itself nor was I familiar with its origins within the Christmas tradition.

An overview: Ilex aquiforium, or European holly, originated in the south of Europe and eventually spread through that continent, making its way to Australia. Although its berries are toxic to humans, birds have no trouble digesting them, which appears particularly attractive for the shrub bears fruit throughout much of the winter season. As for its status as a holiday mainstay, holly was first used as a representation within the Christian tradition when Oliver Cromwell claimed power in England after the execution of King Charles I; his reign would last almost a decade (1649-1658). Puritanism was proclaimed as the nation's religion, forcing Christians to develop unobtrusive ways to worship as they desired. It was during this time that holly came to represent the crown of thorns worn by Christ, and its berries Christ's blood, for Christians used the boughs of this evergreen as a reminder of their savior's birth, suffering, and death.

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