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holly

holly, common name for members of the Aquifoliaceae, a family of widely distributed trees and shrubs, most numerous in Central and South America. The evergreen English holly (Ilex aquifolium), the common holly of Europe, cultivated also in North America, is closely associated with Christmas tradition. The American holly (I. opaca), native to the E United States, is very similar; both are so popular for their decorative spiny leaves and red berries that they are becoming scarce. The hard white wood of both species is used for cabinetmaking and related purposes; it is close grained and polishes easily. Maté, Yerba maté, or Paraguay tea (I. paraguariensis) is very important commercially in S South America as the source of a popular tealike beverage. Guayusa (I. guayusa) is similarly important in Ecuador. Teas and medicinal preparations are also made from some other members of the family, e.g., yaupon and winterberry, or feverbush, both of E North America. Wild or mountain holly (Nemopanthus mucronata) is a deciduous shrub of E North America. Many species of this family are cultivated as ornamentals. Holly is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Celastrales, family Aquifoliaceae.

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Holly

Holly

This name is probably a corruption of the word holy since this plant has been used from time immemorial as a protection against evil influence. It was hung around or planted near houses as a protection against lightning. Its common use at Christmas apparently originated in an ancient Roman festival in which holly was dedicated to the god Saturn. While the Romans were holding this feastwhich occurred about the time of the winter solsticethey decked the outsides of their houses with holly. At the same time the Christians were quietly celebrating the birth of Christ, and to avoid detection they outwardly followed the custom of their heathen neighbors and decked their houses with holly as well. In this way holly came to be connected with Christmas customs. The plant was also regarded as a symbol of the Resurrection.

The use of mistletoe along with holly probably came from the notion that in winter the fairies took shelter under its leaves and that they protected all who sheltered the plant. The origin of kissing under the mistletoe is considered to have come from Saxon ancestors of the British, who regarded this plant as dedicated to Freya, the goddess of love.

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holly

hol·ly / ˈhälē/ • n. a widely distributed shrub, typically having prickly dark green leaves, small white flowers, and red berries. There are several deciduous species of holly but the evergreen hollies are more typical and familiar. • Genus Ilex, family Aquifoliaceae: many species, in particular the American holly (I. opaca), known as the "Christmas holly." See also gallbery, winterberry, yaupon. ∎  the branches, foliage, and berries of this plant used as Christmas decorations.

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holly

holly the branches, dark-green foliage, and red berries of this plant are traditionally used as decorations at Christmas.

The holly as an evergreen tree is used as an image of fidelity.

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holly

holly XII. Reduced form of OE. hole(ġ)n, ME. holin, later hollen, rel. to OS., OHG. hulis (MHG. huls, G. hulst).

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holly

holly (Ilex aquifolium) See AQUIFOLIACEAE.

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holly

hollydrily, kylie, Riley, shyly, slyly, smiley, Smily, wily, wryly •idly • kindly • wifely • likely • timely •Christly •knightly, nightly, sightly, sprightly •lively • fortnightly • housewifely •Barbirolli, brolly, collie, dolly, folly, golly, holly, jolly, lolly, Mollie, molly, Ollie, polly, poly, trolley, volley, wally •knobbly •Bodley, godly, oddly •wanly • Copley • fait accompli •costly •hotly, motley •softly-softly •Bengali, Cawley, crawly, creepy-crawly, Macaulay, Morley, Nepali, poorly, rawly, scrawly, squally •lordly •courtly, portly •jowly, Pauli •aïoli, coaly, coley, Foley, goalie, guacamole, holey, Holi, holy, lowly, moly, pinole, ravioli, roly-poly, Rowley, shoaly, soli •nobly • Oakley • homely •lonely, only •ghostly • Moseley •coyly, doily, oily

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