Holy moly! Better not mistake this flower for the famous mistletoe. It may look surprisingly alike but the distinction between these bright berried plants lies between the holly leaves. Unlike the mistletoe, the holly has serrated edges making it appear like spiny leaves with bright red berries.
This plant and its berries are popular during the Yuletide season for reasons that are really jolly! Because of this, the holly flower meaning and symbolism is rooted in its history and colors.
Holly plants come in white, green, yellow, and pink colors with each color symbolizing good fortune, protection, happiness, and beauty respectively.
History of Holly Flowers
Hollies belong to the Ilex genus that has over 600 species. The most common species known in the genus is the Common holly (Ilex aquifolium). Taxonomic origins of this plant hail from the Aquifoliaceae family. It was first described in written works in the early 12th century.
These flowers originate from North,Central, and South America and diversify into other temperate regions of the globe except Australia and Africa. This alone indicates that these plants love the cold!
It is a plant with prickly leaves and red berries that can grow up to 15 feet tall. These green leaves are very famous during Christmas time.
Hollies are either annual or perennial herbs known to withstand extreme cold weather and thrive after the passing of the season. Did you know that only female plant holly or shrubs have berries?
If you ever come across one without those dazzling red berry fruits, then it’s most likely a male plant! The flowering and fruiting seasons are best enjoyed during the spring.
Symbolism of Holly Blossoms
The Yuletide season is best associated with Hollies. Agrarian and Pagan rituals also praise this plant as the winter king for its ability to thrive during the cold season. The king in this sense may also refer to the later crucified Christ the King.
For the ancient Romans during the late days of December, holly branches and holly sprigs are presented as gifts or tokens of gratitude upon friends and family for goodwill and bounty. They also used Hollies as offerings during the Saturnalia festival for the sun god Saturn.
Word also has it that homes decorated in hollies fused with common ivies bring about peace and passionate bonds to couples in their homes. Druids from ancient Britain and France also embodied the flower as a symbolism of protection.
They crowned their heads with their twigs before entering forests as a sign of defense and safety. They would also decorate midwinter festivals during winter solstice with holly.
Ancient Druids also represented holly as a symbol of fertility and eternal life because even after its season, the holly remained green and vibrant even after the cold winter months.
Another interesting thing the holly symbolize is protection and bring good luck. In a sense, hollies have magical powers that protect home dwellers from evil spirits, witchcraft, and the evil eye.
Some say that it draws good luck to bring holly into homes while it is bad luck when hollies are brought indoors before Christmas eve. In fact, it’s the perfect birth flower for December.
Meaning of Holly Blooms
The Holly actually derives from Middle and Old English, Old German, and Middle Irish words and translates to holy.
Mostly sought-after for its bright-colored berry fruits rather than the flowers, the Holly indicates several distinct meanings. The most common flower meaning of hollies is that it signifies a courageous and brave perspective and attitude towards life as well as domestic happiness. Contrary to this, the flowers also denote caution and alertness for the challenges up ahead.
Other general flower meanings linked to hollies include divine connection and sacred space when planted in gardens or yards. There are only a few colors a holly plant comes in. Here is the meaning behind each flower color and how it is special.
What Does a White Holly Floret Mean?
White hollies are regarded as the purest and most beautiful. Blossoms of this color allow the berries to stand out in the entire plant. Simple stunning! This floral color is believed to bring good fortune and holiness.
What Does a Pink Holly Flower Symbolize?
Holly flowers in shades of pink symbolize enchantment and beauty!
What Does a Yellow Holly Blossom Signify?
Yellow hollies offer as the beacons of happiness and persistence in life and love.
What Does a Green Holly Bloom Represent?
Although an odd color for a flower, green hollies imply the wishes for protection and gifts of foresight.
What is the Biblical Significance of the Hollies?
Aside from its significance during Christmas time and the winter months, holly bushes are referred to as a sacred plant in the holy bible. The hollies are a well-known symbol of the persecution and resurrection of Christ.
The only Son of God, Jesus Christ was sacrificed and adorned with a crown of thorns, a holly wreath, and white petalled flowers. Therefore, the holly wreath signifies the drops of His blood and the flowers as His purity and holiness.
During the birth of Christ, the holly tree was very significant during this time. When the King ordered all new born baby boys to be put to death, Mary prayed for the protection and safety of Jesus while hiding him behind the holly tree. The leaves spread and grew big enough to hide the baby and keep him safe.
What is the Cultural Significance Associated with Holly Bush?
Numerous cultural mythologies and folklores are bound to the holly plant. Celtic mythology believed that it represents the Holly King who ruled from summer to winter and was later defeated by the Oak King and ruled from spring until autumn.
For the Celts, the holly was a symbol of a persecuted King or Celtic chieftains. In Celtic mythology, the holly was a very beloved and respected tree that was said to be the evergreen twin on the oak.
Europeans also offer their own version of myths about the hollies. It was believed that the holly represents the gods of thunder Thor and Tanarus. Locals in the area would plant hollies around their home as a barrier from the rage of lightning during storms caused by angered gods.
What is the Symbolism of Holly Trees During the Christmas Time?
Meanwhile, the Christians believe that the Hollies symbolize Christmas joy and represent it as the flower of December. This belief is traditionally seen as decorations such as holly wreaths and even as a hanging holly on Christmas trees and holiday greeting Christmas cards! It’s hard to miss the holly decorated on a Christmas tree because of the bright holly berries folks decorate it with.
What is the Meaning of a Holly Floral Tattoo?
A Holly floral tattoo could indicate several meanings. Aside from the interpretations and symbolisms mentioned above, these body art designs embody happiness and self-growth. This motif would be a great addition to your body art if you were to represent protection and bravery.
Use of the Holly Tree
There are many uses for hollies aside from being decorated in a winter landscape. Although it loves the cold season, these plants will not thrive very well during dry spells.
Some gardeners re-plant holly in the next season by the root ball method. If you decide to start planting holly, it is best to add wood chips into the soil mix for better growth. Berries red enough mean they are ripe and ready to mature into a new plant!
Holly is often used as a Christmas decor along with other plants such as mistletoe and poinsettia. One famous custom during the Christmas season is to send holly to neighbors and friends to symbolize peace, good luck, and merry cheer.
Some holly plants part also have some traditional medicine uses. The bright red berries, although poisonous berries, and the holly bark are used to make a tea are used as a heart stimulant and a treatment for malaria and epilepsy.
*image credit: Zetor2010/depositphotos