As a child I can remember the fresh scent of the Christmas tree my dad would cut and bring home from the woods. Living in north Florida you only had a couple of choices when cutting a tree in the wild, either red cedar or pine. Soon mom brought home an artificial one we used year after year. I really did miss the aroma that the real tree gave. When I had my own family, we would go out to a tree farm where we picked out a fir tree and they would cut it down. The freshness and smell once again filled our home.
Decorating with fresh greenery is one the oldest winter traditions. It dates back to ancient times. Evergreens represent everlasting life and hope for the return of spring. Holly, mistletoe and evergreens are now seen everywhere during the holidays.
The Romans were the first to “deck the halls with boughs of holly” as it was believed to have protective powers. They would also hang holly on their doors to chase away evil spirits. The Romans also considered holly sacred, a good omen, and representing immortality. They also believed that elves and fairies were sheltered by holly. This was believed to have come from the even earlier Teutonic tribes to the north. Romans also gave holly as gifts.
Later the Christians also adopted a lot of these traditions, they would also decorate their homes and it became a Christmas symbol of Christianity. To the Christians, the holly with its prickly leaves represented the crown of thorns worn by Jesus and their red berries the blood he shed.
Mistletoe has an interesting place in the folklore of early cultures, mostly in northern Europe, Scandinavia and the British Isles. Mistletoe is a true parasite and it often kills its host living in the top of hardwood trees. For this reason, it was believed to hold magical powers by ancient societies and was held sacred. In Scandinavia it was believed to symbolize peace. The mistletoe was also known as “allheal” by the Native Americans they used it to treat dog bites, toothache and measles.
Many believe that kissing under the mistletoe came from English custom, which say that after each kiss, you must pluck a white berry from the bunch and discard it. When all the berries are gone, time to stop kissing. It also dates back even further to Scandinavian mythology. It was said to represent love not death after an arrow made from mistletoe killed the son of Frigga who was the Norse goddess of love. Whoever stood under the mistletoe should receive a kiss.
During the Victorian era in America fir and pine became popular. These along with hemlock, yew, magnolia, bay and others were made into lavish arrangements garlands and wreaths.
Regardless where all the tradition came from, the smells of Christmas still belong to the evergreens. Each day in the our florist, when the designers open a box of fresh greens the smell permeates the air. Who wouldn't love working in these conditions?
Looking for greens & other items to decorate your home? You may find some right outside your door.
Try looking for these:
- lotus pods
- magnolia leaves
- magnolia pods
- pine cones
- nandina berries
- deer moss
- sweet gum balls
- spanish moss
- Pine branches
- evergreen shrubs like: juniper boxwood cedar etc
- branches with moss growing on it
To send an arrangement for the holidays filled evergreens click here!
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A Country Rose