Flower as symbols were very important in art and culture. Artists used flowers as symbols and vessels to send a hidden message to the audience, especially if they want to talk more about something that is a very dangerous message to send to the world. Symbols in art have always been used to express messages that can’t be shared with just anyone, so the more it was used in art and literature the bigger the symbolic value of this symbol was.
Birth flowers are based on lists made by botanists and people who are very well known with spiritual world and symbolism. A person can have more than one birth flower, and lists made specially to determine birth flowers can easily be found.
Sometimes birth flowers are based on botanical facts of the flower, and other times they are based on more symbolic and historic values of each flower. December’s flowers may be very different from each other, one being a bulb and the other an evergreen. They both symbolize good wishes, faithfulness and respect the December birth flowers are holly and narcissus, specifically, the paperwhite narcissus. (see photo above)
The Narcissus is mostly native to the Mediterranean region but there are a few found in Asia and China. Because of modifications there are new species being created in nurseries almost every year. The name Narcissus is from the narcissistic youth of Greek mythology called Narkissos. Technically "Narcissi" is the plural form, The American Daffodil Society prefers the use of "narcissus" for both singular and plural.
Narcissus are often called jonquils in North America, but in reality, that name belongs only to the rush-leaved Narcissus jonquilla and cultivars derived from it.
The Narcissus has a trumpet shaped corona that is surrounded by a ring of petals. They are also poisonous and can be fatal if eaten so no parts of the flower should be ingested.
When comparing the Daffodil, Jonquil, and the "Narcissus", it is important to remember that both the Daffodil and Jonquil are a part of the Narcissus genus. However, while the names "Daffodil" and "Narcissus" can be used interchangeably, a Jonquil is a completely different plant down to the shape of the petals and leaves.
Holly berries should not be ingested by humans as they are mildly toxic and can induce vomiting and diarrhea. However, birds and other wild animals can eat the berries without any problem. The berries start off hard in the fall and winter, and only soften so that they can be eaten by birds after they have been frozen or frosted in the wild several times.
The plant itself is often used by birds as shelter from the cold and wind during bad weather. The plant also provides protection from predators and the food that the birds need to survive during the storms.
There are several American species of Holly that are used to make caffeinated teas. In South America it is used to make yerba mate which is a common drink. In North and Central America, a species of Holly was used by the natives as a ceremonial stimulant known as the black drink.
In western cultures Holly is a popular plant for the Christmas holidays and can often be found in decorations, on trees and in wreaths. The wood from the Holly plant is often used as the white chess pieces while ebony is used for the black pieces. In the times of Druids, and in the 1800's the wood was used to make spinning rods in looms to make cloth.
Before holly was hung in houses to accompany Christmas trees, it was considered to be a sacred plant by the Druids. While other plants wilted in winter weather, holly remained green and strong, its berries a brightly colored red in the harshest of conditions. The Druids regarded holly as a symbol of fertility and eternal life. It was also thought to have magical powers and so the wood was used to make magic wands. In Druidic lore, cutting down a holly tree would bring bad luck. In contrast, hanging the plant in homes was believed to bring good luck and protection.
Holly was also thought to protect homes against lightning strikes. Romans associated holly with Saturn, the god of agriculture and harvest, and decked the halls with its boughs during the festival of Saturnalia.
Early Christian calendars mark Christmas Eve as templa exornatur, meaning “churches are decked,” though supposedly Saturnalia celebrators didn’t allow some Christians to hang boughs in honor of Christmas. Christians adopted the holly tradition from Druid, Celtic and Roman traditions, and its symbolism changed to reflect Christian beliefs.
Today, many Christians consider holly symbolic of Jesus Christ in two ways. The red berries represent the blood that Jesus shed on the cross on the day he was crucified. Legend states that holly berries were originally white, but that the blood Christ shed for the sins of humankind stained the berries forever red. A holly's pointed leaves symbolize the crown of thorns placed on Jesus' head before he died on the cross.
Holly is known as Christdorn in German, meaning "Christ thorn." Both of these symbols are meant to serve as a reminder to Christians of Jesus' suffering, but they aren't the only stories tying holly to Jesus. One claims that the cross on which Jesus was crucified was constructed of holly. Another says that holly, along with sweet basil, sprang up from his footsteps. Less common symbolism includes the holly's white blossoms representing purity, and the idea that if the holly used to decorate a home for Christmas is prickly, the man will rule the house for the coming year; but if the holly used is smooth, the woman will rule.