Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Holly and the Ivy.

The Holly and the Ivy is an English song showing how holly symbolizes the life of Christ. Holly and ivy were traditionally used as decoration to celebrate Christmas in England since at least the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.  Harp arrangements have been performed by many musical artists over the years, including Andreas Vollenweider and Loreena McKennitt.

The Holly and the Ivy is thought by some to have pagan origins and could therefore date back over 1000 years. 

In the first stanza, holly is declared the king of all the trees. When compared to Ivy, Holly bears the crown.    

In the 2nd stanza, Holly is described as bearing a white flower which can be compared to Christ’s purity because he is born of the virgin, Mary.  

The third stanza draws a connection between the red color of holly's berry and Christ's blood.  Holly's thorny "prickle" 

in the fourth stanza is an allusion to the "crown of thorns" worn by Christ.  And the bitter taste of holly's bark mentioned in the fifth stanza? This could be a reference to the drink offered Christ as he hung on the cross.