Winter’s almost here, and we’re well into the holiday season. The florists at Beneva Flowers and Gifts have been busy coming with fun and exciting ways to use December’s birth flower, holly, in our floral designs for our Sarasota, Venice, and Bradenton clients. We’ve put together a complete guide to help you understand the significance of holly during this time of year and great ways to use it in your holiday festivities.
What Is Holly?
Holly is an evergreen plant, which means it stays vibrant and healthy all year long — even during the coldest winter months. Most commonly, holly is a shrub-like plant, but it can grow to tree size, so sometimes you might hear it referred to as a holly tree. Like other evergreens, holly leaves, flowers, and berries sprout from rigid, wooden limbs. When cut, these limbs are called boughs of holly — hence the popular Christmas carol lyrics, “Deck the halls with boughs of holly!” These lyrics refer to decorating a home with holly.
Is Holly Poisonous?
It’s best to consider holly as a poisonous plant. Although it’s leaves and stems are harmless, holly berries are highly toxic to people and pets. They are dangerous when ingested. Be careful to keep indoor holly decorations and outdoor holly plants well out of the reach of dogs, cats, and small children.
What Does the Holly Plant Symbolize?
Since holly stays green and vibrant with its leaves and berries even in the coldest month, holly plants have a long history and symbolic tradition, as winter decorations, which stretches back millennia.
The Celts and Druids though holly plants were magical and sacred. They viewed holly as a symbol of protection, fertility, and eternal life. It was considered bad luck to chop down a holly plant and good luck to keep holly boughs in your home.
For ancient Romans, holly was a symbol of Saturn, the god of harvest and agriculture. They used holly to celebrate the festival of Saturnalia and hung holly boughs above their doorways for good luck and protection.
As a result, early Christians did the same. Though in the Christian tradition, holly eventually took on a symbolic meaning to fit within the belief system. The spiky green leaves came to symbolize Jesus’s crown of thorns, and the red berries represent the blood of Christ.
Our Favorite Ways to Decorate with Holly in December
Decorative Wreaths and Advent Wreaths
In keeping with the oldest traditions, you can still hang boughs of holly from your front door for good luck and to celebrate the spirit of the season. We recommend incorporating them into holiday wreaths which also include other evergreens, pinecones, and festive embellishments. If you mark each Sunday leading up to Christmas by lighting an advent candle, then we recommend adding holly to your advent wreath. It’ll look beautiful and give your wreath additional symbolic importance.
Nothing completes a special holiday dinner like a beautiful, festive centerpiece. To create a cheerful and warm atmosphere, we recommend adding sprigs of holly to a centerpiece featuring seasonal flowers and candles in green, red, white, silver, or gold.
You can give your Christmas packages an elegant look by completing their gift wrapping with a sprig of holly. Tie one on with a bit of pretty ribbon or a bow. Just be sure to keep these packages away from pets and small children.
Corsages and Boutonnieres
If you have a winter wedding, formal party, or some other special occasion in December, we recommend adding holly to your boutonnieres or corsages. Paired with a gown or tuxedo and the winter snow, you’ll look elegant and festive.
Our favorite way to decorate with holly is, of course, in floral arrangements. Holly pairs beautifully with white and red flowers like chrysanthemums, roses, lilies, carnations, hydrangea, orchids, and ranunculus. We also love to add a few seasonal embellishments like frosted pinecones or sparkly ribbon.
Have a Holly-Jolly Holiday Season with December’s Birth Flower
If you plan to deck your halls with holly this December, you can do so with style and flowers! We welcome you to stop by our flower shop for personalized recommendations and expert advice on celebrating the spirit of the season with holly.