Flowers by Leslie - Portsmouth, NH

Flowers by Leslie - Portsmouth, NH

Posted by Flowers by Leslie on December 4, 2019 | Last Updated: November 6, 2020 Christmas Flowers Flowers Plants Seasonal Plants

What Are Boughs of Holly? Everything You Need to Know about December’s Birth Flower

December has arrived and the holiday season is here. With it, winter’s just around the corner. Our florists here at Flowers by Leslie have been busy coming up with new ways to help you celebrate the season, using holly, the birth flower of December. We’ve put together this complete guide with everything you’ve ever wanted to know about holly and using it to decorate for the holidays.

What Is Holly?

Holly is sometimes referred to as a tree and sometimes as a shrub, it just depends on the size of the holly plant. Like other evergreen plants, holly features a rigid, wooden structure of trunk and limbs from with its signature green leaves, flowers, and bright red berries sprout. Limbs cut from a holly plant are called boughs of holly.

Is Holly Poisonous?

While the leaves and shoots of a holly plant are safe, the plants signature red berries are highly toxic when ingested. It’s important to keep outdoor holly plants and fresh holly used to decorate indoors well out of the reach of small children, dogs, and cats.

What Does the Holly Plant Symbolize?

Way before people decorated with holly in their homes in addition to twinkling lights and Christmas trees, ancient cultures also decorated with holly and used it to celebrate holidays. While other plants wilt and die in cold weather, holly stays green throughout winter, even in the harshest weather.

The Celts and Druids considered holly to be sacred and magical. They regarded it as a symbol of protection, fertility, and eternal life. Chopping down a holly tree was thought to be bad luck, but hanging boughs of holly indoors was good luck. For ancient Romans, holly was a symbol of Saturn, the god of harvest and agriculture, and they used it to celebrate the festival of Saturnalia. They hung holly above their doorways for protection and good fortune.

Eventually, early Christians followed suit, and holly slowly took on its own symbolic meaning within Christian traditions. The plant’s spiky leaves represent Jesus’s crown of thorns, and the red berries symbolize the blood of Christ.

Holly Wreath on Old Door

Holly Wreath on Old Door

Christmas Wishes Centerpiece with Holly

Christmas Wishes Centerpiece with Holly

Our Favorite Ways to Decorate with Holly in December

Centerpieces – Holly can be used to create a festive, seasonal table design for a special holiday dinner. To create a warm atmosphere, we recommend adding it to an arrangement of red and white flowers that also features candlesticks in red, white, green, gold, or silver.
Boutonnieres and Corsages – Holly can be incorporated into boutonniere and corsage designs for December weddings, formal parties, or other special events. Add one to your outfit to take your look to the next level.
Decorative Wreaths and Advent Wreaths – Honoring one of the oldest traditions of hanging holly on the front door for good luck and protection, you can use holly in your decorative holiday wreath. We also recommend using holly in advent wreaths, if you light a candle each Sunday leading up to Christmas. Holly will look lovely and add a special symbolic meaning to your advent wreath.
Gift Boxes – Create elegantly gift-wrapped packages by attaching a sprig of holly with a ribbon or bow. Just be careful not to leave packages decorated with fresh holly berries in places where small children or pets can easily reach them.
Floral Arrangements – Our absolute favorite way to decorate with holly during December is in floral arrangements. Holly pairs wonderfully with all sorts of red and white blooms like roses, hydrangea, carnations, ranunculus, chrysanthemums, lilies, and orchids. We like to add a few seasonal embellishments and frosted pinecones, too!

Holly Berries on Snowy Branch

Holly Berries on Snowy Branch

This sweet bouquet includes red carnations and white carnations beautifully arranged in our bright red glass cube.

Make Merry Bouquet

Create a Holly-Jolly Holiday Season with Holly and Other Festive Flowers

If you want to deck the halls in your home with boughs of holly this December, our florists can help you select the best floral arrangements, centerpieces, and accents to celebrate the season. We welcome you to visit our online store or stop by our flower shop for personalized recommendations.