The Holly and the Ivy is a traditional British Christmas carol. Although the song itself has very old roots, the lyrics and music we know today were published by Cecil Sharp in the 19th century.
Holly and ivy were brought into the home during the harsh winter months as a sign of luck and life, as the evergreen plants were hardy and strong. They were also used as decoration in churches in the 15th and 16th centuries, which is interesting as they were the plants of choice at Druidic human sacrifices. Isn’t life interesting?
The song originally dates back to pagan times. Druids saw ivy as a scared [originally a missprit but then methought – let’s leave it as scared] plant associated with the winter solstice.
The original lyrics and meaning have been lost over the years, as have the human sacrifices.