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 feast—which occurred about the time
of the winter solstice—they 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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