In Celtic mythology, winter and summer were represented by twin kings, the “Holly King (winter) and the “Oak King” (summer). In the fall and early winter, the Holly King was the boss because the holly trees were the only greenery left in the bare forest. His twin the Oak King, having lost his leaves, was “naked” and therefore out of the game because the days get shorter and shorter. However, during the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, the tables start to turn and the other twin “Oak King” (summer) starts his comeback. Once this day passes, the days begin to grow longer, gaining more light. Now it’s the Oak king who reigns, only to be again put in his place by his twin brother during the Summer Solstice. To the ancient Celts, this changing of the seasons was symbolic of the cycle of life, birth and death. Therefore holly was symbolic of life and spring to come. This “Family Feud” is a never ending story.
Designing with Holly
Holly is the perfect and versatile accent to compliment other decorations or floral pieces.
- add it to garlands to provide a burst of red
- make a long lasting wreath
- tie stems together to make a door knocker – and old Celtic tradition to ward off bad luck
Cut holly will begin to lose its leaves and berries in 7-10 days. Excessive heat, wind or sunlight will shorten its life. To extend the life of holly, remove it from the plastic bag and dip it in cool, fresh water and then place it in a vase of water. Daily misting will help preserve its freshness. You may also use a floral spray preservative that reduces moisture lost from the leaves.