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Holly: a Christmas Tradition with Pagan Roots

There are many legends, or stories about why Holly is used during the Christmas season. Some of these stories come to us from England, Germany and ancient Rome.

In ancient Rome, Holly was the sacred plant of the god Saturn, and during the festivals of Saturnalia, Holly was used to decorate homes, palaces and the marketplaces in honor of Saturn. Holly was formed into wreaths and given to friends as presents.

After the birth of Christ, but while the Roman Pagans continued to worship their gods, Christians started to celebrate Jesus's birth. The Romans were very angry when people started to celebrate Christmas, and anyone caught doing so would be killed. In order to trick the Romans into thinking that they were not celebrating the birth of Christ, Christians started to decorate their homes with Holly. Much later in time, as more people became Christians, and more people were celebrating the Christian religion, Holly was no longer considered the symbol of the Roman god Saturn, and became instead, a symbol of Christmas.

In Germany, a piece of Holly that was used to decorate a church is supposed to act as a lucky charm to keep lightning away from homes.

In England, beehives are decorated with Holly. It is believed that on the first Christmas, the bees hummed to the Baby Jesus in His honour. Also in England it is said that if sprigs of Holly are placed around a young girl's bed on Christmas Eve, that the naughty little goblins will stay away.

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