Holiday Berries - A Complete Guide

Holidays mean fun, enjoyment, spending time with family and of course, decoration. While you can do holiday decorations from various kinds of artificial greenery and berries, why not go for something original?

You can never find fresh greenery at a better price than bushes, trees, and vines outside your house. One such plant is the Holly plant which contains red berries. It is widely known for its beauty and has various species. But why is it called holiday berries, and what is it used for? Read on as we disclose exciting details.

Overview: Holly 

Holly is a plant, known for its holiday berries. It has numerous species. Among its various species, Oregon Holly, English Holly, and American Holly are the most used for Christmas ornaments. 

Many other species are used for making medicines for cough, digestive orders, dizziness, heart disease, high blood pressure, water retention, and joint pain. 


The plant's pagan roots are surrounded by superstition, myth, and magic. Initially, the Druids, Romans, and Celts brought Holly into their homes during winter. They believed that their ability to keep the leaves was magical and assured the return of the spring season. The plant whose leaves remain green all winter and whose berries look like red drops of blood was seen as powerful and mysterious, endowed with healing potential. 

In Christianity, the Holly plant was adopted as a symbol of Jesus Christ's crown of thorns, the berries symbolizing the blood, and the evergreen as a metaphor for life. 

The tradition of decorating halls with Holly berries continues to date. It has truly become a symbol of Christmas, along with cards and carols. The urban legend goes around claiming that Holly got its name because it was a holy plant. That does make sense, but it isn't true. The origin of the word is complicated, but it derives from an Indo-European word, which means thorny plant. On the other hand, the word 'holy' is of Germanic origin and means holy or healthy. 

Facts About Holly 

When the holiday season is near, Holly seems to be everywhere! Out of the holiday season's decorations, holiday berries have the most interesting and exciting story. Take a look at some of the most interesting facts to share with your friends and family. 

  • Number of Species 

Other than the traditional English Holly, there are 400 other species of the holly plant. All these species belong to the genus Ilex and are mostly found across the globe in tropical, subtropical, and temperate zones.

In the United States, you can find them growing in zones 6-10, with most native species easily available in the majority of areas. Keep in mind that most Hollies are dioecious, which means they have male and female plants. You will require both the male and female plants in fairly proximity to have berries on the bushes. There are also some self-pollinating varieties available. 

  • The Holly and the Ivy 

Though most people are only familiar with the first verse, the song's later verse draws a parallel between thorny leaves and the crown of thorns that Jesus Christ was said to wear, the bitter dark and consequent suffering. 

The holly species referred to in the song is the English Holly, known as Ilex aquifolium, which is the species native to most of Europe.


  • Holly for Decoration 

Even before Christians started using Holly to decorate their homes and churches during Christmas time, people from other cultures were bringing branches of Holly to brighten the atmosphere during winters. 

The Druids are known to use the holly plant for winter solstice celebrations at least two thousand years ago. These people believed that the Holly kind defeated the Oak king and ruled over the darker winter months. 

The Romans associated the Holly plant with Saturnalia celebrated around the same time as Christmas. As Christmas became the most famous celebrated festival in Christmas, the holly plant naturally became a part of other festivities too. 

  • Holiday Berries - Not So Good for Humans

Birds love to feast on holiday berries, but they are all mildly toxic due to the presence of theobromine, a substance quite similar to caffeine. 

Although smaller amounts aren't very harmful, a large amount can cause stomach issues and much more. It is often noticed that birds can handle the toxicity of berries, pets like cats and dogs cannot. Make sure to keep your holiday berries decoration away from their reach. 

  • Holly for Lightning 

The older cultures were happy to trim down the branches of Holly to bring indoors, but they always felt that it was bad luck to cut down the plant entirely. There were numerous reasons for it, but one of the most common was the belief that thorns on the bushes drew lightning, which keeps it away from barns and homes. 

Interestingly, there is a scientific basis for this. The spines of the distinctively shaped holly leaves can act as tiny lightning conductors, protecting the trees and nearby objects. 

Final Thoughts 

Holiday Berries have adorned homes and gardens for centuries now. It is an important food for birds and is mainly found in ancient deer parks, historic gardens, and native woodland. 

What it is mostly known for is Christmas decoration. With its bright green or white spiky leaves and dark red berries, it has become a symbol of Christmas. 

You don't want these berries to look dull and turn black. So make sure to buy holiday berries from a trusted seller that will ensure quality. 

You can opt for Icy Snowy Red Berry Pick that looks like the best option for winter days, or the Country Cotton and Berry Pick that is ideal for adding an aesthetic touch to your space. Use the king of evergreens, Holly, to adorn your personal space during Christmas and get in the festive spirit. Happy Holly shopping. 

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