The Holly Tree Inns were a system of cheap eating establishments in the northeastern United States in the 1870s. They were founded by Annie Adams Fields. wife of Boston publisher James Thomas Fields. The first of them was founded in December, 1870. cite book|title=Annie Adams Fields, Woman of Letters|author=Rita K. Gollin|year=2002|publisher=University of Massachusetts Press|location=Boston, Mass.|id=ISBN 1558493131. founded by Fields, p. 163; first in December 1870, p. 164; inspired by Dickens story, p. 164; three in Chicago, p. 164 ]
These institutions, operated as non-profit s, served meals but no liquor. They were intended to “provide substantial food at cost prices” to working women. Of them, a reporter wrote that “an average of two-thirds of those who avail themselves of the privileges are persons who do not really need to economize, while one-third, consisting of milliners, shop-girls, etc. live at the place from motives of economy, and save fully two-thirds in board.” He noted that they were successfully competing with the free lunch es offered by saloon s. ["Holly-Tree Inns. The System of Cheap Coffee Houses—what the Society of United Workers Propose to Do Here—Good Food at Reasonable Prices." "Boston Daily Globe," December 14, 1872, p. 8 ]
The first of three Holly Trees opened in Chicago in June, 1872, and Gollin says that "over the next few years dozens of other Holly Trees opened in other cities, many of them after consultation with Annie."
An 1874 New York Times article refers to a "Holly-Tree Coffee-house Movement." [Holly-Tree Coffee-house Movement in Brooklyn, April 18, 1874, p. 4; the particular effort they describe, however, seems to have failed. ] ,
The name was a tribute to Charles Dickens. It echoed the title of a Charles Dickens story, "The Boots at the Holly Tree Inn." The story merely names the inn in passing; the 1855 issue of "Household Words" was entitled "The Holly Tree Inn" and was a collection of pieces and stories about the fictitious inn. Gollin notes that Fields heard Dickens read the story on an 1867 visit to Boston, and Fields was touched by the "cheerful Christmas story about warm relationships that cross class divisions." The name was also a reference to "the beneficent holly tree at [Dickens'] graveside."
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Holy Trees of Yakut People
Trees always were important in people's life. People considered tree as axis of the world - axis connecting the earth and sky. The Yakuts (people who live in the Sakha republic in the basin of the river Lena, Russia) have a special tree. It is a symbol of three space worlds. Yakut people think they have a connection with space via this tree. A tree in Yakut religion is connected with upper, middle and lower worlds. Upper world is the place where Gods live, the middle world is inhabited by people, and in the lower world devils live. The Queen of middle world "Aan Alahchin" lives in branching tree in the middle of the widest glade (as a rule it is a birch or a larch).
The Yakut people consider all branching trees as holy trees. They do not allow children to play near them. The Yakuts are afraid to cut big trees that grow near houses: they think a spirit of the Earth Doidu Ichite by the name lives there. This spirit does not do any harm, but he cries when people spoil his favorite tree. He likes to whirl like a small whirl wind. As a present to him Yakuts hang pieces of cloth and horse hair on the tree.
This tradition still exist in our days. Passers by and drivers stop near this tree to hang pieces of cloth and to ask for the permission to pass by. Such tree is called "Aal-Look-Mas " in the Yakut language. And nowadays in different places near the roads you can find trees with small pieces of cloth on its branches.
There is another holy tree in Yakutia. Long ago shamans chose a dry and old tree for performing their dances and conjuring round it. Shamans were old wizards of people of North. They conjured and sang and danced asking the spirits for a good hunt, fish catch, recovering from diseases, until they became exhausted.
There are no shamans now and no frantic dances, but the so called shaman trees are being saved as a specimen of the old culture of the Yakut people.
hearth, to the Roadside Inn, renowned in my time in a sixpenny book with
a folding plate, representing in a central compartment of oval form the
portrait of Jonathan Bradford, and in four corner compartments four
incidents of the tragedy with which the name is associated,--coloured
with a hand at once so free and economical, that the bloom of Jonathan's
complexion passed without any pause into the breeches of the ostler, and,
smearing itself off into the next division, became rum in a bottle. Then
I remembered how the landlord was found at the murdered traveller's
bedside, with his own knife at his feet, and blood upon his hand; how he
was hanged for the murder, notwithstanding his protestation that he had
indeed come there to kill the traveller for his saddle-bags, but had been
stricken motionless on finding him already slain; and how the ostler,
years afterwards, owned the deed. By this time I had made myself quite
uncomfortable. I stirred the fire, and stood with my back to it as long
as I could bear the heat, looking up at the darkness beyond the screen,
and at the wormy curtains creeping in and creeping out, like the worms in
the ballad of Alonzo the Brave and the Fair Imogene.
There was an Inn in the cathedral town where I went to school, which had
pleasanter recollections about it than any of these. I took it next. It
was the Inn where friends used to put up, and where we used to go to see
parents, and to have salmon and fowls, and be tipped. It had an
ecclesiastical sign,--the Mitre,--and a bar that seemed to be the next
best thing to a bishopric, it was so snug. I loved the landlord's
youngest daughter to distraction,--but let that pass. It was in this Inn
that I was cried over by my rosy little sister, because I had acquired a
black eye in a fight. And though she had been, that Holly-Tree night,
for many a long year where all tears are dried, the Mitre softened me
"To be continued to-morrow," said I, when I took my candle to go to bed.
But my bed took it upon itself to continue the train of thought that
night. It carried me away, like the enchanted carpet, to a distant place
(though still in England), and there, alighting from a stage-coach at
another Inn in the snow, as I had actually done some years before, I
repeated in my sleep a curious experience I had really had there. More
than a year before I made the journey in the course of which I put up at
that Inn, I had lost a very near and dear friend by death. Every night
since, at home or away from home, I had dreamed of that friend; sometimes
as still living; sometimes as returning from the world of shadows to
comfort me; always as being beautiful, placid, and happy, never in
association with any approach to fear or distress. It was at a lonely
Inn in a wide moorland place, that I halted to pass the night. When I
had looked from my bedroom window over the waste of snow on which the
moon was shining, I sat down by my fire to write a letter. I had always,
until that hour, kept it within my own breast that I dreamed every night
of the dear lost one. But in the letter that I wrote I recorded the
circumstance, and added that I felt much interested in proving whether
the subject of my dream would still be faithful to me, travel-tired, and
in that remote place. No. I lost the beloved figure of my vision in
parting with the secret. My sleep has never looked upon it since, in
sixteen years, but once. I was in Italy, and awoke (or seemed to awake),
the well-remembered voice distinctly in my ears, conversing with it. I
entreated it, as it rose above my bed and soared up to the vaulted roof
of the old room, to answer me a question I had asked touching the Future
Life. My hands were still outstretched towards it as it vanished, when I
heard a bell ringing by the garden wall, and a voice in the deep
stillness of the night calling on all good Christians to pray for the
souls of the dead; it being All Souls' Eve.
To return to the Holly-Tree. When I awoke next day, it was freezing
hard, and the lowering sky threatened more snow. My breakfast cleared
away, I drew my chair into its former place, and, with the fire getting
so much the better of the landscape that I sat in twilight, resumed my
That was a good Inn down in Wiltshire where I put up once, in the days of
the hard Wiltshire ale, and before all beer was bitterness. It was on
the skirts of Salisbury Plain, and the midnight wind that rattled my
lattice window came moaning at me from Stonehenge. There was a hanger-on
at that establishment (a supernaturally preserved Druid I believe him to
have been, and to be still), with long white hair, and a flinty blue eye
always looking afar off; who claimed to have been a shepherd, and who
seemed to be ever watching for the reappearance, on the verge of the
horizon, of some ghostly flock of sheep that had been mutton for many
ages. He was a man with a weird belief in him that no one could count
the stones of Stonehenge twice, and make the same number of them;
likewise, that any one who counted them three times nine times, and then
stood in the centre and said, "I dare!" would behold a tremendous
apparition, and be stricken dead. He pretended to have seen a bustard (I
suspect him to have been familiar with the dodo), in manner following: He
was out upon the plain at the close of a late autumn day, when he dimly
discerned, going on before him at a curious fitfully bounding pace, what
he at first supposed to be a gig-umbrella that had been blown from some
conveyance, but what he presently believed to be a lean dwarf man upon a
little pony. Having followed this object for some distance without
gaining on it, and having called to it many times without receiving any
answer, he pursued it for miles and miles, when, at length coming up with
it, he discovered it to be the last bustard in Great Britain, degenerated
into a wingless state, and running along the ground. Resolved to capture
him or perish in the attempt, he closed with the bustard; but the
bustard, who had formed a counter-resolution that he should do neither,
threw him, stunned him, and was last seen making off due west. This
weird main, at that stage of metempsychosis, may have been a sleep-walker
or an enthusiast or a robber; but I awoke one night to find him in the
dark at my bedside, repeating the Athanasian Creed in a terrific voice. I
paid my bill next day, and retired from the county with all possible
That was not a commonplace story which worked itself out at a little Inn
in Switzerland, while I was staying there. It was a very homely place,
in a village of one narrow zigzag street, among mountains, and you went
in at the main door through the cow-house, and among the mules and the
dogs and the fowls, before ascending a great bare staircase to the rooms;
which were all of unpainted wood, without plastering or papering,--like
rough packing-cases. Outside there was nothing but the straggling
street, a little toy church with a copper-coloured steeple, a pine
forest, a torrent, mists, and mountain-sides. A young man belonging to
this Inn had disappeared eight weeks before (it was winter-time), and was
supposed to have had some undiscovered love affair, and to have gone for
a soldier. He had got up in the night, and dropped into the village
street from the loft in which he slept with another man; and he had done
it so quietly, that his companion and fellow-labourer had heard no
movement when he was awakened in the morning, and they said, "Louis,
where is Henri?" They looked for him high and low, in vain, and gave him
up. Now, outside this Inn, there stood, as there stood outside every
dwelling in the village, a stack of firewood; but the stack belonging to
the Inn was higher than any of the rest, because the Inn was the richest
house, and burnt the most fuel. It began to be noticed, while they were
looking high and low, that a Bantam cock, part of the live stock of the
Inn, put himself wonderfully out of his way to get to the top of this
wood-stack; and that he would stay there for hours and hours, crowing,
until he appeared in danger of splitting himself. Five weeks went
on,--six weeks,--and still this terrible Bantam, neglecting his domestic
affairs, was always on the top of the wood-stack, crowing the very eyes
out of his head. By this time it was perceived that Louis had become
inspired with a violent animosity towards the terrible Bantam, and one
morning he was seen by a woman, who sat nursing her goitre at a little
window in a gleam of sun, to catch up a rough billet of wood, with a
great oath, hurl it at the terrible Bantam crowing on the wood-stack, and
bring him down dead. Hereupon the woman, with a sudden light in her
mind, stole round to the back of the wood-stack, and, being a good
climber, as all those women are, climbed up, and soon was seen upon the
summit, screaming, looking down the hollow within, and crying, "Seize
Louis, the murderer! Ring the church bell! Here is the body!" I saw
the murderer that day, and I saw him as I sat by my fire at the Holly-
Tree Inn, and I see him now, lying shackled with cords on the stable
litter, among the mild eyes and the smoking breath of the cows, waiting
to be taken away by the police, and stared at by the fearful village. A
heavy animal,--the dullest animal in the stables,--with a stupid head,
and a lumpish face devoid of any trace of insensibility, who had been,
within the knowledge of the murdered youth, an embezzler of certain small
moneys belonging to his master, and who had taken this hopeful mode of
putting a possible accuser out of his way. All of which he confessed
next day, like a sulky wretch who couldn't be troubled any more, now that
they had got hold of him, and meant to make an end of him. I saw him
once again, on the day of my departure from the Inn. In that Canton the
headsman still does his office with a sword; and I came upon this
murderer sitting bound, to a chair, with his eyes bandaged, on a scaffold
in a little market-place. In that instant, a great sword (loaded with
quicksilver in the thick part of the blade) swept round him like a gust
of wind or fire, and there was no such creature in the world. My wonder
was, not that he was so suddenly dispatched, but that any head was left
unreaped, within a radius of fifty yards of that tremendous sickle.
That was a good Inn, too, with the kind, cheerful landlady and the honest
landlord, where I lived in the shadow of Mont Blanc, and where one of the
apartments has a zoological papering on the walls, not so accurately
joined but that the elephant occasionally rejoices in a tiger's hind legs
and tail, while the lion puts on a trunk and tusks, and the bear,
moulting as it were, appears as to portions of himself like a leopard. I
made several American friends at that Inn, who all called Mont Blanc
Mount Blank,--except one good-humoured gentleman, of a very sociable
nature, who became on such intimate terms with it that he spoke of it
familiarly as "Blank;" observing, at breakfast, "Blank looks pretty tall
this morning;" or considerably doubting in the courtyard in the evening,
whether there warn't some go-ahead naters in our country, sir, that would
make out the top of Blank in a couple of hours from first start--now!
Once I passed a fortnight at an Inn in the North of England, where I was
haunted by the ghost of a tremendous pie. It was a Yorkshire pie, like a
fort,--an abandoned fort with nothing in it; but the waiter had a fixed
idea that it was a point of ceremony at every meal to put the pie on the
table. After some days I tried to hint, in several delicate ways, that I
considered the pie done with; as, for example, by emptying fag-ends of
glasses of wine into it; putting cheese-plates and spoons into it, as
into a basket; putting wine-bottles into it, as into a cooler; but always
in vain, the pie being invariably cleaned out again and brought up as
before. At last, beginning to be doubtful whether I was not the victim
of a spectral illusion, and whether my health and spirits might not sink
under the horrors of an imaginary pie, I cut a triangle out of it, fully
as large as the musical instrument of that name in a powerful orchestra.
Human provision could not have foreseen the result--but the waiter mended
the pie. With some effectual species of cement, he adroitly fitted the
triangle in again, and I paid my reckoning and fled.
The Holly-Tree was getting rather dismal. I made an overland expedition
beyond the screen, and penetrated as far as the fourth window. Here I
was driven back by stress of weather. Arrived at my winter-quarters once
more, I made up the fire, and took another Inn.
It was in the remotest part of Cornwall. A great annual Miners' Feast
was being holden at the Inn, when I and my travelling companions
presented ourselves at night among the wild crowd that were dancing
before it by torchlight. We had had a break-down in the dark, on a stony
morass some miles away; and I had the honour of leading one of the
unharnessed post-horses. If any lady or gentleman, on perusal of the
present lines, will take any very tall post-horse with his traces hanging
about his legs, and will conduct him by the bearing-rein into the heart
of a country dance of a hundred and fifty couples, that lady or gentleman
will then, and only then, form an adequate idea of the extent to which
that post-horse will tread on his conductor's toes. Over and above
which, the post-horse, finding three hundred people whirling about him,
will probably rear, and also lash out with his hind legs, in a manner
incompatible with dignity or self-respect on his conductor's part. With
such little drawbacks on my usually impressive aspect, I appeared at this
Cornish Inn, to the unutterable wonder of the Cornish Miners. It was
full, and twenty times full, and nobody could be received but the post-
horse,--though to get rid of that noble animal was something. While my
fellow-travellers and I were discussing how to pass the night and so much
of the next day as must intervene before the jovial blacksmith and the
jovial wheelwright would be in a condition to go out on the morass and
mend the coach, an honest man stepped forth from the crowd and proposed
his unlet floor of two rooms, with supper of eggs and bacon, ale and
punch. We joyfully accompanied him home to the strangest of clean
houses, where we were well entertained to the satisfaction of all
parties. But the novel feature of the entertainment was, that our host
was a chair-maker, and that the chairs assigned to us were mere frames,
altogether without bottoms of any sort; so that we passed the evening on
perches. Nor was this the absurdest consequence; for when we unbent at
supper, and any one of us gave way to laughter, he forgot the peculiarity
of his position, and instantly disappeared. I myself, doubled up into an
attitude from which self-extrication was impossible, was taken out of my
frame, like a clown in a comic pantomime who has tumbled into a tub, five
times by the taper's light during the eggs and bacon.
The Holly-Tree was fast reviving within me a sense of loneliness. I
began to feel conscious that my subject would never carry on until I was
dug out. I might be a week here,--weeks!
There was a story with a singular idea in it, connected with an Inn I
once passed a night at in a picturesque old town on the Welsh border. In
a large double-bedded room of this Inn there had been a suicide committed
by poison, in one bed, while a tired traveller slept unconscious in the
other. After that time, the suicide bed was never used, but the other
constantly was; the disused bedstead remaining in the room empty, though
as to all other respects in its old state. The story ran, that whosoever
slept in this room, though never so entire a stranger, from never so far
off, was invariably observed to come down in the morning with an
impression that he smelt Laudanum, and that his mind always turned upon
the subject of suicide; to which, whatever kind of man he might be, he
was certain to make some reference if he conversed with any one. This
went on for years, until it at length induced the landlord to take the
disused bedstead down, and bodily burn it,--bed, hangings, and all. The
strange influence (this was the story) now changed to a fainter one, but
never changed afterwards. The occupant of that room, with occasional but
very rare exceptions, would come down in the morning, trying to recall a
forgotten dream he had had in the night. The landlord, on his mentioning
his perplexity, would suggest various commonplace subjects, not one of
which, as he very well knew, was the true subject. But the moment the
landlord suggested "Poison," the traveller started, and cried, "Yes!" He
never failed to accept that suggestion, and he never recalled any more of
This reminiscence brought the Welsh Inns in general before me; with the
women in their round hats, and the harpers with their white beards
(venerable, but humbugs, I am afraid), playing outside the door while I
took my dinner. The transition was natural to the Highland Inns, with
the oatmeal bannocks, the honey, the venison steaks, the trout from the
loch, the whisky, and perhaps (having the materials so temptingly at
hand) the Athol brose. Once was I coming south from the Scottish
Highlands in hot haste, hoping to change quickly at the station at the
bottom of a certain wild historical glen, when these eyes did with
mortification see the landlord come out with a telescope and sweep the
whole prospect for the horses; which horses were away picking up their
own living, and did not heave in sight under four hours. Having thought
of the loch-trout, I was taken by quick association to the Anglers' Inns
of England (I have assisted at innumerable feats of angling by lying in
the bottom of the boat, whole summer days, doing nothing with the
greatest perseverance; which I have generally found to be as effectual
towards the taking of fish as the finest tackle and the utmost science),
and to the pleasant white, clean, flower-pot-decorated bedrooms of those
inns, overlooking the river, and the ferry, and the green ait, and the
church-spire, and the country bridge; and to the pearless Emma with the
bright eyes and the pretty smile, who waited, bless her! with a natural
grace that would have converted Blue-Beard. Casting my eyes upon my
Holly-Tree fire, I next discerned among the glowing coals the pictures of
a score or more of those wonderful English posting-inns which we are all
so sorry to have lost, which were so large and so comfortable, and which
were such monuments of British submission to rapacity and extortion. He
who would see these houses pining away, let him walk from Basingstoke, or
even Windsor, to London, by way of Hounslow, and moralise on their
perishing remains; the stables crumbling to dust; unsettled labourers and
wanderers bivouacking in the outhouses; grass growing in the yards; the
rooms, where erst so many hundred beds of down were made up, let off to
Irish lodgers at eighteenpence a week; a little ill-looking beer-shop
shrinking in the tap of former days, burning coach-house gates for
firewood, having one of its two windows bunged up, as if it had received
punishment in a fight with the Railroad; a low, bandy-legged,
brick-making bulldog standing in the doorway. What could I next see in
my fire so naturally as the new railway-house of these times near the
dismal country station; with nothing particular on draught but cold air
and damp, nothing worth mentioning in the larder but new mortar, and no
business doing beyond a conceited affectation of luggage in the hall?
Then I came to the Inns of Paris, with the pretty apartment of four
pieces up one hundred and seventy-five waxed stairs, the privilege of
ringing the bell all day long without influencing anybody's mind or body
but your own, and the not-too-much-for-dinner, considering the price.
Next to the provincial Inns of France, with the great church-tower rising
above the courtyard, the horse-bells jingling merrily up and down the
street beyond, and the clocks of all descriptions in all the rooms, which
are never right, unless taken at the precise minute when, by getting
exactly twelve hours too fast or too slow, they unintentionally become
so. Away I went, next, to the lesser roadside Inns of Italy; where all
the dirty clothes in the house (not in wear) are always lying in your
anteroom; where the mosquitoes make a raisin pudding of your face in
summer, and the cold bites it blue in winter; where you get what you can,
and forget what you can't: where I should again like to be boiling my tea
in a pocket-handkerchief dumpling, for want of a teapot. So to the old
palace Inns and old monastery Inns, in towns and cities of the same
bright country; with their massive quadrangular staircases, whence you
may look from among clustering pillars high into the blue vault of
heaven; with their stately banqueting-rooms, and vast refectories; with
their labyrinths of ghostly bedchambers, and their glimpses into gorgeous
streets that have no appearance of reality or possibility. So to the
close little Inns of the Malaria districts, with their pale attendants,
and their peculiar smell of never letting in the air. So to the immense
fantastic Inns of Venice, with the cry of the gondolier below, as he
skims the corner; the grip of the watery odours on one particular little
bit of the bridge of your nose (which is never released while you stay
there); and the great bell of St. Mark's Cathedral tolling midnight. Next
I put up for a minute at the restless Inns upon the Rhine, where your
going to bed, no matter at what hour, appears to be the tocsin for
everybody else's getting up; and where, in the table-d'hote room at the
end of the long table (with several Towers of Babel on it at the other
end, all made of white plates), one knot of stoutish men, entirely
dressed in jewels and dirt, and having nothing else upon them, _will_
remain all night, clinking glasses, and singing about the river that
flows, and the grape that grows, and Rhine wine that beguiles, and Rhine
woman that smiles and hi drink drink my friend and ho drink drink my
brother, and all the rest of it. I departed thence, as a matter of
course, to other German Inns, where all the eatables are soddened down to
the same flavour, and where the mind is disturbed by the apparition of
hot puddings, and boiled cherries, sweet and slab, at awfully unexpected
periods of the repast. After
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Out in the garden stood a stately snow maiden, crowned with holly. bearing a basket of fruit and flowers in one hand, a great roll of music in the other, a perfect rainbow of an Afghan round her chilly shoulders, and a Christmas carol issuing from her lips on a pink paper streamer.
If a breath of air stirred, it made no sound here; for there was not a holly. not an evergreen to rustle, and the stripped hawthorn and hazel bushes were as still as the white, worn stones which causewayed the middle of the path.
I smelt the rich scent of the heating spices; and admired the shining kitchen utensils, the polished clock, decked in holly. the silver mugs ranged on a tray ready to be filled with mulled ale for supper; and above all, the speckless purity of my particular care - the scoured and well-swept floor.
The chirp came from a thick holly bush, bright with scarlet berries, and Mary thought she knew whose it was.
If I could work my will,' said Scrooge indignantly, `every idiot who goes about with "Merry Christmas" on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.
She rose with an ill-favoured smile, and taking a few steps towards a wall of holly that was near at hand, dividing the lawn from a kitchen-garden, said, in a louder voice, 'Come here
But now, upo' Christmas-day, this blessed Christmas as is ever coming, if you was to take your dinner to the bakehus, and go to church, and see the holly and the yew, and hear the anthim, and then take the sacramen', you'd be a deal the better, and you'd know which end you stood on, and you could put your trust i' Them as knows better nor we do, seein' you'd ha' done what it lies on us all to do.
The nocturnal adventures of Gurth were not yet concluded; indeed he himself became partly of that mind, when, after passing one or two straggling houses which stood in the outskirts of the village, he found himself in a deep lane, running between two banks overgrown with hazel and holly. while here and there a dwarf oak flung its arms altogether across the path.
Each of them carried a stout holly staff in his hand, and along with them there came two men of quality on horseback in handsome travelling dress, with three servants on foot accompanying them.
A candle stood on the gravel walk, winking a little in the draughts; it threw inconstant sparkles on the clumped holly. struck the light and darkness to and fro like a veil on Alan's features, and sent his shadow hovering behind him.
At the edge of the road, mingling with the brambles, grew holly bushes, and here and there stood large dead trees whose branches traced zigzags upon the blue sky.
Well, I'm half a mind t' ha' a look at her to-night, if there isn't good company at th' Holly Bush.
Holly is an evergreen tree that normally grows up to a height of 70 feet in the wild, but the cultivated variety has an average height of anything between 6 and 15 feet. This tree produces shiny, rubbery, alternate leaves that are spiky at the edges. Holly produces diminutive white color flowers during the period between June and July. It may be noted here that only female holly trees produce fruits or berries.
According to the saying of an old carol to �deck the halls with boughs of holly' to follow a tradition which the ancient Christians most probably took on from the Roman Saturnalia. Following this pagan or pantheist celebration, which commenced on December 17, prompted the festivals of the Christian Yuletide. As per an ancient Roman traditional faith, the white flowers of holly had the aptitude to transform water into ice! People also believed that planting holly trees near one's house protected them from lightening as well as the evils of witchcraft - in fact, many people still follow this in the rural areas of England. Going by a medieval fable, the holly tree first emerged at the footsteps of Jesus Christ, with prickly leaves to be a sign of the crown of thorns and the red berries of the plant to remind people of the blood drained on the holy cross.
In earlier times, herbalists as well as physicians had discovered several therapeutic uses of the holly. An infusion or tea was prepared by brewing the leaves of the tree and it was thought that taking this infusion induced sweating and was, therefore, given to patients suffering from malaria as well as other intermittent or persistent fevers. On the other hand, the juice extracted from the red berries of holly was a common medication for treating jaundice. although this juice is extremely toxic. Native Indians inhabiting the southern regions of the United States also brewed a potent tea from the leaves of an indigenous holly tree in America. It is believed that this particular tea called the �black drink' may possibly have had an important function in ceremonial purification. It may be noted that the Yaupon leaves enclose caffeine and occasionally the pioneers employed this tea in the form of an alternate for tea that was imported.Parts used
Leaves, berries, bark.Uses
Despite possessing a number of therapeutic properties, these days holly is seldom used as a remedy. The leaves of this tree possess laxative, fever reducing as well as diuretic properties and have been used to cure jaundice, fevers as well as rheumatism. In addition, the berries of holly cleanse the bowels and result in vomiting provided it is taken in excessive amounts.
Lacnunga (an ancient Anglo-Saxon collection of religious and remedial texts) suggested that the bark of the holly tree may be boiled in goat's milk and the resultant solution may be used to cure chest constriction. Similarly important, it was also believed that the holly tree protected the people from witchcraft and all evil spells. According to a number of physicians of the 19th century, the bark of the holly tree was not only equivalent to cinchona. but also surpassed the latter's effectiveness in curing fevers.
In Chinese folk medicine, for several centuries now, people have been brewing the leaves of holly trees to prepare a tea. Findings of a number of studies undertaken with holly in recent times have suggested that the leaf of this tree facilitates in enhancing the blood circulation as well as expanding the blood vessels, which, in turn, augments the flow of blood to the heart.
There was a time when the leaves of holly trees were employed in the form of a diaphoretic (any substance that induces perspiration) as well as in the form of an infusion and was given to people suffering from pleurisy. catarrh and smallpox. In addition, as the leaves possess tonic and febrifugal properties, they have also been employed for treating sporadic fevers. In fact, powdered leaves or infusions and decoctions prepared with holly leaves have been used with considerable success in treating intermittent fevers in cases where cinchona has failed to produce the desired results. These therapeutic actions of holly leaves have been attributed to the presence of a bitter principle. which is an alkaloid known as Ilicin.
Compared to the leaves, the holly berries or the fruits produced by the tree possess entirely dissimilar properties. The berries are known to be purgative and violently emetic and in rare occasions they result in too much vomiting immediately after they are swallowed. However, blackbirds and thrushes consume these berries freely without causing them any harm. The holly berries have also been used to treat dropsy (formerly known as edema) and the powdered form of these berries, which possess astringent properties, has been employed to control hemorrhages .
The bark of the young shoots of holly is fermented to prepare birdlime. The bark is stripped off the tree sometime during the middle of summer and soaked in unpolluted water and subsequently boiled until it detaches into different strata. At the time the internal green part is accumulated in small masses in the course of the fermentation ensuing. When approximately a fortnight has passed, it is converted into a muggy, mucilaginous material, and is pulverized into a paste, rinsed and once again laid by for fermentation. Following this, the substance is blended with some type of oily substance - in this case goose fat is preferable, and is all set for use. It may be noted that in earlier times, in the northern regions of England, the holly tree was found in such abundance in the Lake District that people made large quantities of birdlime from it and even exported it to the East Indies for eliminating insects.
It may be mentioned here that the holly tree leaves have also been used in the Black Forest in the form of an alternate for tea. In fact, the Paraguay tea, which is extensively used in Brazil, is prepared by brewing the dried up leaves and tender shoots of a different species of holly (botanical name Ilex Paraguayensis) that grows in abundance in South America. This is actually an example of the fact that comparable or analogues attributes are present is over a solitary species belonging to the same genus.
The common holly tree has been extensively planted in gardens. parks and as hedges, especially for the plant's berries which are present in the winter months. The dense foliage of holly, including the prickly protective leaves, as well as its trimmed shape that is done without much difficulty, is perfectly suitable as a hedge plant. In several regions of Britain, there was a time when it was believed that cutting down holly trees brought bad luck, since the evergreen leaves of this plant was regarded to be a symbol of everlasting life as well as mystical powers. Even to this day some people hold such convictions and several holly trees are found in the middle of hedges where they serve as helpful signpost for the local inhabitants.
It may be noted that the holly tree is associated with Christmas in Britain as well as several other western cultures. The holly trees, especially their branches, make a perfect celebratory beautifications owing to the plant's vivid red berries set against the deep green and shiny leaves. The custom of holly decorations actually has its origin even before the advent of Christianity and most possibly it commenced with the ancient pagans of Europe. These people brought the branches of holly inside their homes during the winter with a view to avoid the evil spirits and witchcraft. On the other hand, documents available show that even the Romans had the tradition of sending holly boughs along with gifts during Saturnalia - a festival celebrated in the month of December.Habitat and cultivation
Holly can be found growing all over most regions of Europe. In addition, it also grows in many areas of west and central Asia as well as North Africa. In addition, holly is also cultivated in the form of a garden plant. The leaves of this tree are collected in spring, while the berries are harvested during the winter.
The holly tree has the aptitude to grow just about in any type of soil if it is not very damp. However, the holly trees grow to their maximum size and height when the soil is rich, sandy or gravelly loam having a good drainage system. In addition, there needs to be a reasonable amount of dampness at the roots because the growth of the trees is generally stunted in all arid localities. However, holly trees will manage to survive in nearly all types of soil, barring those that are drenched with stagnant water. The ideal or most encouraging situations, however, appear to be a thinly dispersed forest of oaks. in the open spaces of which, the holly trees grow immediately. This tree has the aptitude to endure extreme climatic conditions and is not harmed even by the harshest winters.
The holly trees are propagated by their seeds. However, since the holly seeds take too long to germinate, usually as long as two years, the berries of the tree are usually put in a heap of earth for a year prior to sowing. During autumn, the young holly plants are transplanted to their permanent positions when they are about a foot or 18 inches in height. In case you are growing holly for serving as a hedge, ensure that the soil around the tree is well trenched from before and if required, use moderate amounts of manure. Compared to most deciduous trees, the holly trees wear out the soil in the adjoining area to a greater extent. Hence, a minimum of two years would be required to recover the check owing to the transplantation. By nature, the holly trees always have a sluggish growth, but they grow comparatively more rapidly after the first four to five years of existence.
There are several varieties of holly cultivars and among these one is identified by means of the exceptional color of the plant's berries - they are yellow instead of being red. The other forms of this holly tree are distinguished by multicoloured foliage, or due to the presence of a more or lesser number of spines compared to the ordinary forms.
During the winter months, the more gaudy varieties of the double contrast provided by the holly leaves and berries are responsible for perking up the appearance of the garden as well as the shrubbery. These varieties of holly trees are produced by grafting four or five year-old plants of the common variety as well as by cuttings.
Early phase of spring, prior to the formation of the sap, is considered to be the ideal time to cut down the holly trees. It may be noted that rather than a straight cut, a sloping cut is always preferred as this prevents moisture from staying on the cut portion. As a further protection the wound or the cut portion ought to be swathed with a tar coating. However, the growths on the side of the trunk should be left untouched since they will facilitate in drawing up the sap.Constituents
Chemical analysis of the holly has revealed that this herb encloses ilexanthin, ilicin (which is a bitter principle), theobromine (found only in the leaves of the plant) and caffeic acid. It may be noted here that theobromine is basically an alkaloid of the caffeine type that is especially used to treat asthma .Collection and harvesting
The leaves of holly are used fresh as well as dried. but more commonly when they are dried up. This is the reason why the leaves of this plant are collected during May and June. The leaves should be removed from the tree on an arid day when humidity is low. The best time for harvesting the leaves is around the noon where there is not even a trace of dew left on the leaves. It is important to discard all blemishes or insect-eaten leaves immediately to save the good ones from being spoilt.Comments