Hello again and welcome back. Hope you are enjoying our Hattingdon Christmas hat countdown.
Have you picked a favorite already or are you waiting to see them all before deciding?
You can’t go wrong with a hat adorned with holly at Christmas. We have already seen that with Bonnie Holly in her black beret trimmed out in some Ilex.
Ilex? Em, what? Ilex is the scientific name for holly. How did I come up with that?
I thought I would find out a bit about holly since my knowledge was limited to — it is green, prickly, has red berries and poisonous.
Holly, or Ilex, is a genus of 400 to 600 species of flowering plants in the family Aquifoliaceae, and the only living genus in that family. Wow. Go Holly. There’s more.
Nicky Phipps at the Gardening Know How website tell us that there are boy and girl holly bushes and “If you don’t have at least one male within close proximity of a female, pollination will not occur. As a result, there will be no berries on holly. It takes just one male to pollinate several female plants.” 
That last bit, about there one male pollinating several females has familiar ring to it. Moving on.
So why is holly associated with Christmas?
According to the Why Christmas website, “The prickly leaves represent the crown of thorns that Jesus wore when he was crucified. The berries are the drops of blood that were shed by Jesus because of the thorns. In Scandinavia it is known as the Christ Thorn.” 
Oh, my. A website on Celtic traditions mentions this:
“Holly is one of the symbols most commonly associated with Christmas and has been used in this holiday’s celebration for close to two thousand years. Although the mention of holly today conjures images of wreaths, it actually had religious significance long before it’s adoption by Christianity.
“To the Druids, it was holly’s evergreen nature that made it special. They believed that it remained green to help keep the earth beautiful when the deciduous trees (such as the oak, which they also held sacred) shed their leaves. It was also their custom to wear it in their hair when they ventured into the forests to watch the priests collecting mistletoe. The holly berries were thought to represent the sacred menstrual blood of their Goddess.
“As the British Isles began to convert to Christianity, the early Christians adopted the tradition of decorating their home with holly. At first they displayed it to avoid persecution, but as Christianity began to gain dominance they started to incorporate it into their own religion. The significance of the berries changed so that they now symbolized the blood of Christ and holly gradually solidified its position as a Christmas tradition.” 
A famous English Christmas carol, The Holly and the Ivy, uses the holly symbol to celebrate the birth of Christ. One line states that “The holly bears a berry/As red as any blood/And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ/To do poor sinners good.” Another line says “The Holly bears a prickle/As sharp as any thorn/And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ/On Christmas Day in the morn.” 
But what about the darn hat, right?
The #3 most popular Hattingdon Christmas hat design for 2015 is . . . (no) surprise, Holly! Here she is.
There’s two more to go, lots more to discover and fun to be had.