Holly is one of the most popular flowering plants in the world. Its popularity stems from its beauty and its versatility. There are many types of hollies, but they all have similar characteristics: They’re short-lived perennials; they bloom only once or twice a year; their flowers are white or pale pink; and they’re usually found growing near streams, ponds, lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water.
The American holly (Ilex paraguariensis) is the most common type of holly. It’s native to North America, where it grows in moist habitats such as woodlands, fields, pastures, and gardens. Its name comes from the fact that it was first described in 1759 by botanist John Adams.
In some parts of the United States it is known as Indian hemp because its seeds were used for making rope.
In Europe, the European holly (Ilex europaea) is considered to be the best quality variety. It’s native to Europe and Asia, where it grows in open areas like meadows, grasslands, pastures, hedgerows and gardens. The plant is often called English hemp because it was originally cultivated there.
Some people call them Japanese holly because they grow them in Japan.
Other common hollies include the dahoon holly (Ilex cassine), the inkberry (I. glabra), the blueberry holly (I. macrophylla), theCalifornia holly (I.
× attenuata), the mountain holly (I. mucronata) and the swamp holly (I. lanceolata). Their berries, leaves, flowers, and wood can also be used for medicine or other purposes.
The holly is also known as the holy tree. It’s a symbol of light, life, and love in many religions. In Norse mythology, the world was created from the body of the giant Ymir.
The first man and woman were created from an ash tree, the first twin children of Mother Earth.
Hollies are also used as Christmas trees in many parts of the world because they keep their leaves all year round. Their bright red berries add color to the otherwise green Christmas tree. They can also be used as decorations on the Christmas tree or anywhere in the house.
Hollies are popular with gardeners and landscapers for the following reasons:
They’re evergreen. This means they keep their leaves all year round. Some types lose their leaves in the winter, but grow new ones in the spring.
They have attractive flowers and berries. Their flowers are usually white or slightly pink, while their berries are usually red. Their flowers are also perfect for displaying in flower arrangements like centerpieces on tables and such.
They grow well in many different types of soil and climate. They can survive under harsh conditions, but they’re at their best in areas with good soil and a mild climate. Unlike other plants, they’re happy in swampy soil and damp ground, but they can also grow in rocky terrain and even on mountain slopes.
They’re easy to maintain. They don’t need too much attention or fertilizer. They don’t even need pruning unless it’s for aesthetic purposes or to keep them under control.
They’re tolerant of wide temperature ranges, from -30 degrees Fahrenheit to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
They can be used for windbreaks and as a natural form of fencing. They’re often planted in strategic locations in battlefields to serve as natural bulwarks against strong foes.
Holly “hedges” or “walls” have been used for boundaries and fences for centuries. They’re often used to mark the boundary between two properties, especially in rural areas where other types of fencing may not be as effective.
Furthermore, holly wood is tough and can resist decay. It’s hard but flexible and can resist knife blades and other types of cutting instruments. It can even be used as a weapon in its own right.
Hollies are popular as Christmas trees and other types of decorations because their red berries and green leaves contrast with each other very nicely. Unlike some artificial plants, they don’t lose their leaves or shed their berries over time. It gives the impression that they’re “real” plants instead of something that’s been manufactured in a factory.
Some types of holly are toxic to livestock and humans. This has lead to some folk tales about supernatural creatures hiding in them. The infamous English “goblin” or “hunky” known as the “Hobby” is often said to hide in a dense patch of hollies waiting for its prey.
Hollies are sometimes planted near buildings for good luck. They’re also planted near cemeteries in memory of people.
In many churches, holly branches are included in the decorations at Christmas and other important religious events. Their presence is meant to represent the crown of thorns that Jesus was wearing when he was on the cross, as well as symbolize the victory of life over death. This tradition dates back to the Middle Ages when “holy men” roamed the countryside, preaching the gospel.
During the Christian Year of the Tree, a special mass in honor of trees is held at church. A tree is often planted in the church’s grounds and special blessings are given to it.
Some small communities have competitions to see who can come up with the most beautiful holly decorations for their church.
In some areas where there are lots of tourists, it has become a tradition for people to go out into the woods and cut down a holly tree to take home as a decoration.
With its glossy green leaves, red berries, and reddish stems, hollies have been used to make a variety of things, from hedges to wreaths to small ornaments.
Holly adds a festive quality to many different types of decorations and clothing.
Most people like to keep a holly sprig on their person in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It’s supposed to bring good luck.
During the holiday season, certain types of businesses and even government offices will display a small evergreen tree in the lobby as a decoration. If there isn’t a real tree available, an artificial one will do. If all they can afford is a sprig of holly taped to a broom handle, that will do as well.
In some communities, it has become a custom to go from house to house collecting money for charity. Sometimes this is done as a group effort, with families and friends going together. Sometimes it’s done by large organizations like the police force or fire department.
Everyone is supposed to dress in a holiday costume and be polite. The idea is to surprise people and catch them off guard with your generosity and goodwill. If they give you money, it’s because they genuinely want to and not out of fear.
In the weeks and months after Christmas, one can see sprigs of holly in people’s windows. This is so common that people who don’t put up a Christmas tree out of religious reasons (or lack thereof) often display a sprig of holly out of tradition.
In the past, “hollying” meant going out and cutting down a holly tree and dragging it home. This was extremely labor intensive, but over time various shortcuts have been invented. Some of these involved rolling the tree onto a pre-made wooden frame.
Others involved sawing the tree in half lengthwise and stacking the halves one on top of another. Still others involved drilling holes halfway through the trunk and then screwing them together.
In some communities, people compete to see who can create the most elaborate holly sprig decoration for their front door. These often have moving parts like a face that opens and closes its mouth. They are powered by a small motor and gears, which are in turn connected to the sprig by a series of wires.
During the week leading up to the 25th, people will often go door to door and sing Christmas carols for tips. This is done both by individuals and by groups such as church choirs or school bands. They are expected to be good enough to earn money, but not so good that people don’t want to hear them again next year.
In some communities, it has become a tradition for groups of costumed children to go from house to house singing Christmas carols. The children are encouraged to be as outrageous as possible and some communities have competitions to award the best costumes. Because the children are young, it is expected that they might make a few innocent messes, but anything more than that would be bad sportsmanship.
The largest of the Christmas carols is “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” It tells the story of a pair of lovers who are separated for ten months of the year (June, July, and August) but are able to see each other one day out of that period (the day in between the 12th and 13th of February). It is a long and elaborate song, so much so that many communities only sing portions of it.
During the Christmas season, it has become customary in some communities to raise money for local charities. These organizations spend the raised funds on gifts and food that they then give to poverty-stricken families at a large Community Christmas Party.
Just as some people are preparing for Christmas, others are preparing for Spainfest. This festival is held in honor of the arrival of the first Spaniards in these lands, which was almost five centuries ago. During this time, people will eat traditional Spanish foods such as paella and drink Spanish wines.
Many people also choose to wear flamenco dresses and suits.
The biggest celebration is held in Seville, but all of Spain joins in. Every five years (this is the 500th anniversary), the World Council sends representatives to attend the festivities.
The local chapter of Amnesty International is protesting the celebration on the grounds that it glosses over several atrocities committed by the first Spaniards. To appease them, the World Council has allowed a small protest parade on the day of the anniversary.
The parade is small, no more than a hundred people. It includes members of AI and their families, as well as a few other peace groups that are dedicated to stopping violence. They are all carrying signs with messages like “make love not war” and “give peace a chance.”
The parade makes its way through the main street of town. A few people watch from windows, but no one joins them. At the front of the parade is a large group of brightly colored balloons, floating peacefully along.
The parade ends at the town park. The bright balloons are tethered to a fence so that they won’t float away. The protesters sit down in a large circle and hold hands.
Then they stand up again, holding hands with the person on either side, so that they form a large ring of people.
They sing songs and read poems for over three hours. Then, just as the protest is ending, a small boy wanders into the park. He is about three years old and is holding the leash of a small dog.
The boy seems to be looking for someone. He gets distracted by the circle of people and lets go of the dog. The dog trots over to the protesters and begins sniffing one of the balloon strings.
The boy watches him for a moment, then turns to look at the protesters as if he’s interested in what they’re doing.
At first, no one pays much attention to him. Then, one of the protesters notices the dog. “
Does anyone know that child?”
she asks. No one answers. She walks over to him. “
Hey there,” she says, “who are you?”
“I lost my puppy,” says the boy, “and I’m looking for him.”
The woman thinks for a moment and decides to call her friend on the telephone, even though she knows she’ll miss most of the parade. She doesn’t mind, though. She thinks that it’s more important to be safe than to miss a parade.
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