Holly and Ivy

Holly, especially the variety found in Europe, is commonly referenced at Christmastime, and is often referred to by the name Christ’s thorn. Since medieval times the plant has carried a Christian symbolism, as expressed in the popular Christmas carol, The Holly and the Ivy, in which the holly represents Jesus and the ivy represents His mother, the Virgin Mary.
Christians have identified a wealth of symbolism in holly. The sharpness of the leaves recalls the crown of thorns worn by Jesus; the red berries remind us of the drops of blood that were shed for salvation; and the shape of the leaves, which resemble flames, can serve to reveal God’s burning love for His people. Combined with the fact that holly maintains its bright colours during the Christmas season, it naturally came to be associated with the Christian holiday.
As such, holly and ivy have been a mainstay of British Advent and Christmas decorations for Church use since at least the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when they were mentioned regularly in churchwardens’ accounts.
Holly and ivy figure in the lyrics of the Sans Day Carol. The music was first published by Cecil Sharp. Sir Henry Walford Davies wrote a popular choral arrangement that is often performed at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols and by choirs around the world. Henry VIII wrote a love song Green groweth the holly which alludes to holly and ivy resisting winter blasts and not changing their green hue So I am and ever hath been Unto my lady true.