IVY (Mishnaic) (Heb. קִיסוֹס, kisos, from the Gr. κισσός), Hedera helix, which grows wild in the forests of Israel. It is mentioned in the Mishnah as a plant occasionally grown in a vineyard (Kil. 5:8). Its dense branches are considered a screen (separation) against uncleanliness (Oho. 8:1). It is probable that it was customary to train various clinging plants, including ivy, upon the walls of permanent sukkot, with the result that the Mishnah lays it down that a sukkah over the roof of which ivy has been trailed is invalid (Suk. 1:4). This may be the source of Plutarch's statement that sukkot were made from the branches of vines and ivy, from which he concluded that the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was merely a feast of *Dionysius, to whom ivy was dedicated (Quaestionum Convivialium, cap. 4: problem 6, 671 d). However, Tacitus (Historia 5:5) had rejected the equation of the feast of Dionysius with Tabernacles, although he remarks that the Jewish priests used to be adorned with ivy wreaths. According to the Book of Maccabees (ii Macc. 6:7; cf. iii Macc. 2:29) Antiochus Epiphanes forced the Jews to wear ivy wreaths in honor of Dionysius on the feast of Bacchus.
Loew, Flora, 1 (1928), 219–21; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), index. add. bibliography: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 142.
Ivy was sometimes regarded as unlucky, and is traditionally opposed to the holly at times of celebration.
Ivy League a group of long-established universities in the eastern US having high academic and social prestige. It includes Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia. The term refers to the ivy traditionally growing over the walls of these establishments.
i·vy / ˈīvē/ • n. a woody evergreen climbing plant (genus Hedera, family Araliaceae), typically having shiny, dark green five-pointed leaves. Several species include the common English ivy (H. helix), often seen climbing on tree trunks and walls. ∎ used in names of similar climbing plants, e.g., poison ivy, Boston ivy.