Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Ivy at Christmas Past and Present

Ivy at Christmas Past and Present.

I have picked holly and ivy, arranged them in a vase, and decorated them with tiny parcels wrapped in gold paper tied with red ribbon and ornamented with stars.

Early Christians would not have brought ivy indoors because the Church associated it with the god of wine, Bacchus, who wore a wreath of ivy on his head, and whose female associates drank wine made from ivy. I did not feel guilty for picking ivy which, according to one belief, symbolises females because it clings, and according to another represents human need to cling to divine strength.

There are many legends about ivy, one was that a stem placed in a glass of wine would filter poison, and another was that ivy growing on the wall of a house deterred witches

Once upon a time, there were contradictory beliefs about ivy. She was either condemned to stand outside in winter’s cold or described as blessed and cherished. Also, because ivy grows profusely in graveyards, it was sometimes regarded as a symbol of death, so it was not surprising she was banned from the celebration of Christ’s birth, although, like other evergreens, she was believed to represent eternal life.

Eventually, the Church allowed ivy to be carved in stone and wood, but she was still condemned to remain outside in the cold, dark days of winter, but ivy cut from my garden, both plain green and variegated green and sunshine-yellow are welcome in my house.

No comments: