I love the tradition of bringing greenery into the house during the darkest part of the year.. a reminder that the earth is only sleeping and will burst into life once more once she has shed her old layers, rested and renewed herself.
I made this little wreath for the front door from the evergreens in the herb garden, its just bay and rosemary. They both smelled divine while I worked with them. Had intended (indeed, still intend!) weaving a scarlet ribbon and adding pine cones, berries and other decorative bits later this week.. but it just looked so simple and fresh and green that I couldn't bring myself to do it yet.
This year we finally have an eco christmas tree which is actually growing in its pot and will live beyond the Christmas festivities. Yes, before you ask, it drops needles.. but I don't see that as a problem. I hoover them up. I like the ritual of watering it a little every day. Its nice to have something to nurture at a time when we are no longer out working daily in the garden.
Yesterday, driving through the winter countryside I saw mistletoe growing high up in trees for the first time.. a magical sight and it made me determined to look up some of the folklore surrounding this and other plants associated with this time of the year. I filled the hanging baskets by the front door with lovely variegated ivy which, like mistletoe, had its use banned by the church for its strong pagan (ie pre-Christian) associations.. yet they are still widely used, along with holly, though I am sure not many folks would now know why.
Share with me anything that you know .. and I'll add links or a new post if I find anything interesting?
UPDATE (Dec 30th 2011):
Found this wonderful Susun Weed article about Rosemary which includes the following:
"Old herbals hint that rosemary exerts its influence magically as well as physically. Burned as an incense, twined into a wreath, or grown in a pot, rosemary protects the house and those who live in it, especially the women..
Rosemary is a traditional Christmas decoration – partly because it smells good, and partly because pruning rosemary back mid-winter makes it stronger and healthier. So don’t hesitate to cut bunches of it for beauty."