TGM HollyIt’s hard to escape noticing that it’s that festive time of year again. Indeed, in schools it is like an annual endurance competition that starts after summer and climaxes this week with a relay of nativity plays, carol concerts and complaints from the cleaning staff about the volume of glitter that has worked its way into the classroom carpet. At this time of year I am especially grateful for the weekly wanders to the woods. A welcome respite from the hectic product driven commercial Christmas the majority of us find ourselves lost in.

Holly berriesI had the intention in this piece of writing about the festive associations of the Holly Tree and how he represents unconditional love. Last week I went into the woods with my camera to get some seasonal shots of berry laden boughs of Holly to use alongside the article. To my surprise, instead of finding the bright red berries, I found several slightly confused Hollys in flower. This did lead me to question about sharing the advice of a tree who could not even tell what season we are in!

Holly SaplingThen I realised that I was being rather judgemental. So he’s flowering when he should be fruiting – ‘Ok is Ok’ as we say at Forest School. He’s also rather prickly and bears mildly poisonous berries, I’m sure he makes a regular appearance on our risk assessments – but this spiky, toxic fellow has some very special qualities.

Holly TreeHave you ever brought holly inside this time of year, as our ancestors did, and noticed how his waxy leaves reflect the light into a thousand sparkles? Maybe he’s trying to tell us something? At this darkest time of the year, when others have retreated and sleep he stands strong, bright & vibrant dressed in green and red. When darkness reaches its peak he chooses to reflect and spread the light. Unconditionally he will shine and sparkle for you – it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been naughty or nice (unlike Santa – that jolly judgemental fool)!

So remember to invite the spirit of Holly into your home this festive season and let his spiky toxic energy sooth and heal. Reflect the light.

Love Holly too? Want to know more?
• I’ve uploaded a species fact file for Holly on the wiki here

• Activity – Make a traditional evergreen wreath, on the wiki here

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