Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Legend of Holly & Christmas Trees


Hello, fellow lovers of all things green,

In search of a special Christmas card, I found one that intrigued me. “The Legend of the Christmas Tree,” is the headline, with an artist rendering of a man on a horse pulling an evergreen towards a log cabin in the woods.

The Legend of the Christmas Tree

The legend told was of a monk named Wilfrid during the early days of Christianity. He struck a huge oak tree, an object of worship, which fell to the ground in four pieces. From the center grew a Fir tree.

He told his followers, “See how it points towards the heavens. Let this be called the tree of the Christ child. Gather about it, not in the wilderness but in your homes. There, it will be surrounded with love and gifts and rites of kindness.”

My heart sinks when I see a Christmas tree tossed on the curb right after New Year’s Day. Most know the legendary carol The Twelve Days of Christmas, which begins on Christmas Day and ends on January 6th when the three wise men come upon baby Jesus. The twelfth day of Christmas is also called the Epiphany, or Little Christmas, and surely justifies keeping your tree standing until a few days later. But if you used a living ball and burlap or container tree, my favs, only seven to ten days inside is best.

A Surprise Card from my dear Mom

Legend-of-Holly-CardAfter finding the Christmas Tree Legend card that evening, I began decking the halls. There’s a green bin of cherished ornaments my sister gathered for me that I saved for last. What fun to discover a Christmas card with a holly branch on top of the treasures. Inside was a note on a 3 x 5 card. Mom always carried 3 x 5’s in her pocket. She stacked them on the counter and next to her reading spot to jot down to-dos and tidbits of wisdom she came across.

My sister wrote on the 3 x 5, “Here’s a card from Mom’s collection. I thought of you since the wishes come with a horticultural lesson.” Dot added a smiley face as Mom always did, usually with a smile beyond the circled face.

“The holly tree outside Mom’s old bedroom has red berries which show beautifully against the dark green leaves; so pretty.”

Mom lived with Dot and Jim during her last years before her dementia journey required nursing home care.

“PS: Don’t you love the green 3 x 5 card, also from mom’s collection, of course.”

The frosted glass candle is what I remember the most growing up with a berried holly branch. We rarely lit the candle. I’ll burn it sparingly, too, never wanting to run out of the flame that decorated our holiday home for many years.

Holly-on-Twig-AngelThe Legend of Holly

Inside Mom’s unused Christmas card is The Legend of Holly, which starts with, “Because Holly grows in most parts of the world, for centuries it has been a decoration at festivals. In ancient times, people believed that anyone who wore a wreath made of berries would be gifted with second sight.” Second sight means seeing things others don’t, including what’s to come.

“Holly bears fruit and stays green in winter. Thus, it became a symbol of immortality,” the card explained and went on to share several legends. “One says that holly was the burning bush from which God spoke to Moses in the wilderness.”

It ends with, “Few of these legends persist today. Holly has become a traditional Christmas decoration, and its beauty needs no further explanation.”

Whatever the legends and traditions you celebrate, It’s All About Love, which never ends. I wish you and yours the blessings of health, peace, and love. Merry Christmas.

Garden Dilemmas? and your favorite Podcast App.

There’s more to the story in the Garden Dilemmas Podcast:

Enjoy related stories:

History & Legend of Poinsettas in Flowers of the Holy Night

Ellie’s Living Christmas Tree

Repurposing Christmas Trees

Garden Dilemmas Podcast Ep 23. Season of Love, All About Poinsettias



Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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