A tradition of holly; Christmas Eve services planned

Published 1:51 pm Thursday, December 17, 2015

One of the popular greeneries of Christmas is the holly and its red berries.  Popular usage of this greenery dates back to ancient cultures.

In Norse mythology, holly was associated with the god of thunder Thor and the leaves were brought into the home to prevent lightning strikes.

The Romans used holly in the festival dedicated to the sun god Saturn and the winter solstice celebration of Saturnalia.

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Holly was believed to have magical powers in many ancient cultures. The howling, icy winds in the dark nights of winter were believed to be ghosts and demons. Decorating with holly would ward off these evil spirits.

Some pagan rituals involved the placing of holly leaves around the outside of the home to invite the tiny good fairies of the forest to come to the home and shelter under the leaves and bring good fortune to the family. 

As Christianity spread across Europe, holly was used as a winter decoration over the doors of homes to avoid persecution. In time the prickly leaves came to represent the crown of thorns that Jesus wore when he was crucified. The berries symbolize the drops of blood that were shed by Jesus because of the thorns.

Holly boughs were the major evergreen decoration in many homes until in the 1800s British Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert of Germany, brought the German tradition of an evergreen tree into their royal home and the Pennsylvania Germans brought their tradition to America. 

Holly has been an end-of-year holiday decoration from the times of the ancient Roman Saturnalia to our modern Christmas.

Holly has been an end-of-year holiday decoration from the times of the ancient Roman Saturnalia to our modern Christmas.

Community Communiqué

Olive Branch United Methodist Church will have its annual Christmas covered dish buffet and program after the worship service on Sunday.

Elon Baptist Church in Pamplin is having services at 5 p.m. Christmas Eve.

Evergreen Baptist Church is having Christmas Eve service at 6 p.m.

Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church is having Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m.

Glenn Memorial Baptist Church is having Christmas Eve service at 9:30 p.m.

There will be a Christmas play with fellowship after on Christmas Eve at Chestnut Grove Baptist. 

The Prospect Happy Hats met last Tuesday at the Farmville Masonic Lodge 41 AF & AM. Those celebrating for Christmas were Hilda Allen, Betty Meadows, Ann Norton, Carol Schall, Margaret Stockton, Betty Sumner, Jeannette Tarleton and Elsie Wilson.

Bag Ladies Bingo met last Saturday at the home of Bernard and Dorothy Adcock.  The charities were the Clothes Closet and the Bread of Life of Lynchburg.

Julian and Edwina Covington attended the Pamplin/Evergreen Community Choir concert “Breath of Heaven” at the Pamplin Depot last Saturday afternoon.

The congregation of Prospect United Methodist Church enjoyed their Christmas fellowship meal after the worship service last Sunday.

Please keep the following people in your thoughts and prayers Alice Campbell, John Hix, Nancy Dickerson, Martha Whitehead, Dorothy Womack, Kenneth Brisentine, Betty Jean Bolt and Gary Fiscus.

Sympathy is extended to the family and friends of Robert Wiley Jackson and Curtis Johnson.

“True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

If you have any news, call Edwina Covington (434) 574-6576.

EDWINA COVINGTON is a retired teacher and columnist for Elam. Her email is ecovington@centurylink.net.