“The holly bears a prickle, as sharp as any thorn, And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ on Christmas Day in the morn. The holly bears a bark, as bitter as any gall, And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to redeem us all.” – The Holly and the Ivy
“And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe.” John 19:2
Holly and Ivy have been decorations for the Christmas season for decades. The Holly’s green leaves with red berries makes beautiful accents. There is a powerful symbolism written in each leaf and berry. The Ivy, in its own right, displays strength in what its vine is rooted in. This Christmas carol displays the power of what we may consider as simple accents in its lyrics.
The edges of Holly are prickly and as “sharp as any thorn”. These represent the crown of thorns placed upon Christ’s head by the soldiers. In fact, in Scandinavia and Germany, Holly is known as The Christ Thorn. The red berries symbolize the blood of Jesus Christ shed for our sins upon the cross.
Ivy is a vine. Vines need something to cling to if they are going to grow. Ivy can be a reminder for us to cling to God’s Word, to His promises, to the hope which is found in Christ and Christ alone. We must “let our roots grow up in him” (Colossians 2:7).
It is my prayer for all of us to look at these decorations differently this Christmas and for every Christmas to come. They are more than just Holly and Ivy. When you look at them, stop and rejoice in celebrating His birth. Rejoice in Him who came to take away the sins of the world.
He bore the crown of thorns for us. He shed his blood for us. He came to redeem us all.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” Ephesians 1:7
Great and merciful Lord, thank You for sending Your only Son to us. Thank You for undeserving redemption You have given us through the cross. Amen.