Holly has a strong cultural resonance. We use it as a Christmas decoration since the Victorian times. In pagan times, it was customary to bring holly boughs in to decorate the house. Holly was a powerful fertility symbol and was supposed to protect a family against ill-fortunes. Holly planted near a home was regarded as a safe guard against poisoning. It also provided protection from lightening. During Yule, we bring holly in our homes to remind us that green foliage will return when the darker days grow shorter.
Every year I send so many Yule or Christmas cards and every year less are returning seasonal wishes. On the one hand I understand; sending cards costs time, energy, and paper. On the other hand, this tradition that dates back to Victorian times, reminds us that in the middle of the long North-European winter, when winter brought hardship, we would send each other well wishes. It was to let people know that you were thinking about them, that you were keeping a person in the light, that you would pray for his/her well-being, or that you wanted to give a sign of life and hoped to receive a sign of life in return. It is a lovely tradition that has many variations. There were messengers bridging long distances with a message of hope or well being, there were powerful musical instruments being able to be heard miles away that informed villagers miles away of a message depending on which melodies were used, there were postal doves, and now there is email. A dressed up card never loses its charm and although I am too scaling back my list, I hope this tradition will survive text-messages and email.