Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

What's Christmassy about Holly?

Posted: December 3, 2011 at 17:39 pm Author: Caroline Bennett

As part of Westonbirt’s programme of family activities this winter, Westonbirt’s education team have created a trail that explores winter traditions from around the world.

Caroline Bennett, Westonbirt’s Education Officer, researched the trail and uncovered some fascinating facts about the trees and plants which are central to so many of these traditions and beliefs.

What's Christmassy about Holly?


For thousands of years people across Europe have decorated their homes with evergreen branches of trees in wintertime. Evergreen branches are symbols of survival and everlasting life and are especially important during festivals of the winter solstice.

Pagans believed that holly would protect people from lightning and witches. Some Christians associate spiky holly with Jesus’ crown of thorns. Many Pagan solstice traditions changed over time to become Christmas traditions.

Shiny evergreen leaves like those of holly help to reflect light around a room so definitely make the dark winter days seem brighter!

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