Deck the Halls with Natures Gifts

Published 10:08 am Wednesday, November 29, 2017

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly; / Fa la la la la, la la la la….”

Did you know that the original Christmas carol “Deck the Halls” was composed in the 16th century by Welsh composer Nos Galan as a winter carol to celebrate the New Year? The English lyrics we are familiar with today were written by Thomas Oliphant in the mid-17th century.

During the Georgian and Victorian era it was all about status and wealth. During the Christmas and New Year’s holiday in particular the halls and parlors of the wealthy would be “decked,” with much opulence and splendor. In vain attempts to appear the wealthiest, while declaring it the, “season to be jolly.”

I delight in decorating my halls and grounds each year for Christmas with trimmings and cuttings I gather from the gardens and the woods around my home. It is a way for me to make use of the garden during this time of year and also saves me money. I also prefer the look and smell of the natural greenery from nature.

I have to confess I do love sparkle, shine and all things that glitter so I do add quite a lot of it to the mix. That’s who I am and it makes me happy.

There is more to it though than saving money and utilizing the garden’s bounty in the winter. There is much symbolism and meaning attached to flowers and plants. I like the challenge of incorporating different ones in my décor each year relating to the Christmas season. Not all my guests will recognize the subtle nod to the history and personal beliefs of the holiday through particular choices of plant materials I have made. But on occasion someone will and usually a lovely conversation is had.

Magnolia Flowers and foliage are a popular choice of many to incorporate into their decorative displays. The flower is known as a symbol of beauty, gentleness, dignity and nobility.

The meaning attached to the Magnolia is stability and grace through the ages. It is believed that fossil remains have shown magnolias to be present in the landscape one hundred million years ago. They are thought to be one of the first flowering plants to evolve on earth.

The colors of the blooms also hold meaning; White represents the moon, yellow the sun, pink friendship and love, purple is the color of royalty.

Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe are three other popular plants utilized in decorative displays. Their representations originated from pre-Christian time when they were used to celebrate the Winter Solstice. They were believed to ward off evil and celebrate new growth.

In the modern Christian community Holly represents the crown of thorns that Jesus wore. The berries drops of blood that he shed. Ivy must cling to something for support as it grows. This reminds us we must cling to God for support in our lives. Mistletoe represents peace.

Fir and Yew trees represent everlasting life with God.

The ever popular Christmas wreath is thought to date back to Roman times. It is a symbol of Christ’s unending unwavering faith.

Many folks will receive flower arrangements and bouquets at Christmas. There is also symbolic meaning to cut flowers. If you are blessed with one this year, take note of the materials used to make it. Often the sender has chosen particular flowers on purpose, to convey a silent message of love in the gift. I will post a legend of symbolic floral materials on The Garden Muse Facebook page.

Consider utilizing nature when decorating for the holidays.

Dawn Conrad can be reached at or