Plants of the winter solstice


The Extension office will be closed for the Christmas holiday Dec. 24 and 25 and for the New Year holiday on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1

It’s officially winter. The winter solstice, Dec. 22 this year, was the first day of winter, the shortest day and the longest night of the year. To early cultures, the winter solstice was a day of both apprehension and celebration of the cold, dark winter and the promise of longer, warmer days to come. Many plants play an important role in many of our holiday traditions celebrating the season surrounding the winter solstice. The following article on plants of the season and their historic and cultural context was written by Larry Stritch of the U.S. Forest Service Rangeland Management Botany Program in Washington, D.C.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly

“In ancient cultures, the holly tree symbolized the waning sun commencing with the summer solstice and the oak tree symbolized the waxing sun commencing with the winter solstice. The Druids believed holly’s evergreen nature made it sacred and that it remained green throughout winter to keep the earth beautiful at a time when deciduous trees shed their leaves.

Holly was used for decoration throughout homes, hanging boughs of it over entrances to peoples’ homes or as wreaths of holly that were hung on doors. Placing a ring of holly on doors originated in Ireland. Holly, green with red berries, was one of the few plants still beautiful at this time of year.

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