But Give Me Holly, Bold and Jolly!

Photo of Holly

Holly is used to decorate houses at Christmas time and is a symbol of the season. Like many symbols, its roots can be traced to older celebrations.

Holly was used in the time of the Romans in the Saturnalia. This was a festival devoted to Saturn, the god of the harvest. It was a time of much merry making, taking place on December 17th. The Romans decorated their homes with holly and other evergreens. It was supposed to symbolize good luck.

For Christians, Holly also symbolizes Jesus Christ’s crown of thorns. That’s because its leaves are spiky and the berries symbolize his blood.

Here’s a poem by Christina Rossetti, about holly and other plants…

But Give Me Holly, Bold and Jolly

A ROSE has thorns as well as honey,
I’ll not have her for love or money;
An iris grows so straight and fine
That she shall be no friend of mine;
Snowdrops like the snow would chill me;
Nightshade would caress and kill me;
Crocus like a spear would fright me;
Dragon’s-mouth might bark or bite me;
Convolvulus but blooms to die;
A wind-flower suggests a sigh;
Love-lies-bleeding makes me sad;
And poppy-juice would drive me mad: –
But give me holly, bold and jolly,
Honest, prickly, shining holly;
Pluck me holly leaf and berry
For the day when I make merry.

This article was posted on Saturday, December 16th, 2006 at 5:57 pm and is filed under But Give Me Holly, Bold and Jolly, Christina Rossetti, Christmas, Christmas Poems, English, Holidays Around the World, Languages, Mama Lisa, Poetry, Poets. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “But Give Me Holly, Bold and Jolly!”

  1. lyn Says:

    But Give Me Holly, Bold and Jolly

    A ROSE has thorns as well as honey,
    I’ll not have her for love or money;
    An iris grows so straight and fine
    That she shall be no friend of mine;
    Snowdrops like the snow would chill me;
    Nightshade would caress and kill me;
    Crocus like a spear would fright me;
    Dragon’s-mouth might bark or bite me;
    Convolvulus but blooms to die;
    A wind-flower suggests a sigh;
    Love-lies-bleeding makes me sad;
    And poppy-juice would drive me mad: –
    But give me holly, bold and jolly,
    Honest, prickly, shining holly;
    Pluck me holly leaf and berry
    For the day when I make merry.

  2. June Warren Says:

    Despite this poem being a sweet poem about flowers, the flowers are intended to be a metaphor for stereotypes of women. This can lead to it being a not so suitable piece for young girls in the modern day, as it’s goal is to put down women that are supposedly “inappropriate” such as the Iris is too haughty, not subservient, as women were told to be at the time of the poem’s writing, or the dragon’s mouth, who argues and complains too much. However, though the themes are hidden, and it is likely a child wouldn’t understand their hidden meaning, it could work into an excellent discussion to talk about how women have changed in today’s world, and how your kids can break out of those stereotypes and be who they want to be.

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