A-carolling [Pagan roots]

The Boar’s Head Carol is ancient compared to most of the carols for Christmas. It was written in Middle English and titled, “The Bores Heed in Hande Bring I” and wasn’t considered a Christmas Carol except for the custom of eating your finest meal at Christmastime. In that way, wild boar became associated with Christmas.

“Deck the Halls” or “Deck the Hall” (which is the original version of the lyrics) is a traditional Christmas, Yuletide, and New Years’ carol. The melody is Welsh dating back to the sixteenth century, and belongs to a winter carol, “Nos Galan”, while the English lyrics, written by the Scottish musician Thomas Oliphant, date to 1862.

If many Christians knew of the significance of holly and mistletoe in the pagan tradition, they might be somewhat taken aback. Still, we all have to sacrifice something.

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.

Old Peculier: I spent a relaxing couple of hours reading about paganism whilst listening to these lovely ladies. I needed the relaxation as it’s been a very stressful year in one way and another. My wife heard the music and loves it too, so I’ve placed an emergency order with Santa on her behalf 😉

Penseivat: Am image always appears of the likes of Freddy Mercury in his tight, black leather clothes and that silly cap, or Julian Clary in his alter ego whenever I hear “….don we now our gay apparel….”. Oh, how Mr Oliphant must be turning in his grave.

The interesting thing, to me, is that anyone would have a problem with the veracity of certain things having gone on:







Bill: What have the Romans ever done for us? Tis interesting clicking through to the pages those links take one to and just as interesting to click through to the references used to compile the info presented and see where there root lies. Roman or Christian.

Here there are half a dozen ivy plants and two hollies in the potted garden that inhabits the concrete yard at the rear and a pair of hollies one that berries regulary and one intermittently.

Despite there being four large and thirty or so small apple trees in the gathering mistltoe has yet to appear. Could be a dearth of townie mistle thrushes or the fact all the local orchards that once graced the town and its environs have long since disappeared in the ‘march of progress’ which round here at least means flog off the land to build more houses and roads.

Along with the orchards they removed all the market gardens. Most food of my youth (age 1 – 10) came from within five miles of my home, save for citrus, bananas, nuts etc. As the house had a garden we got cooking apples, rhubarb, potato, beans etc from outside the backdoor and mushrooms from cow pastures a mile or two distant.

Cockles, mussels, flatties, crabs from the copious coastline not to mention hedgerow fruits a plenty.

Happy days when did they go?

Forgot to add.

There are a pair of ivies in the house. Just cuttings growing on.

The yard is also occupied with the following, not that anyone is interested.

A pair of big pear trees and a dozen small ones.
A gingko.
A cycad.
A hawthorn.
Eight japanese maples.
A wolf berry.
A hardy kiwi.
A clematis,
A white grape.
A blackberry.
A blueberry.
A pair of birches.
A zelkova.
A wych elm.
A pair of english elms.
A trio of box.
Three black currants.
Two red currants.
Three gooseberries.
Two mints.
Two lemon balms.
An oregano.
A clematis.
Four raspberries.
A plum.
Two cotoneasters.
A berberis.
A pair of chinese elms.
A lavender.
Half a dozen strawberries.
A pot of jersey royals.
Three hostas.
Three miniature hostas.
Six varieties of ferns.
Nine varieities of bamboo.
An uncina or three.
Numrous hellebores.
Two chestnuts.
A comfrey.
A bakers dozen of white elderberries.
Primroses and primulas.
Two pots of lillies.
Dogs tooth violets.
A fuschia or two.
Spinach beet.
Five berrying shrubs whose name esapes me.
A field maple.
Three small leaved limes.
A pot of sage.
A tall campanula.
A rose.
A pair of creeping campanulas.
A pair of beech trees.
During the growing season they are joined by.
Tall Peas.
Climbing Beans.
Sweet peas.
Wall flowers.
The odd avocado.
Herb robert.
Evening primrose.
Volunteer, oats, wheat, sunflower, tomatoes, potatoes. radish, california poppies, wallflowers plus whatever else manages to germinate in spite of my efforts to pretend ‘I grow them’!

Not bad, now I have written it all out, on about 100 square feet of concrete.

And here we see the one tradition overtaken by the other:

The tradition of wassailing (alt sp wasselling)[1] falls into two distinct categories: the house-visiting wassail and the orchard-visiting wassail. The house-visiting wassail is the practice of people going door-to-door, singing and offering a drink from the wassail bowl in exchange for gifts; this practice still exists, but has largely been displaced by caroling.[2] The orchard-visiting wassail refers to the ancient custom of visiting orchards in cider-producing regions of England, reciting incantations and singing to the trees to promote a good harvest for the coming year.[3]