On November 1st, 2011, Canada Post began issuing a new stamp in its Christmas series featuring ‘Holly’. This plant, with its pointy green leaves and bright, red berries is a popular decoration during this winter holiday. The stamp depicts a highly coloured, red and green holly plant against a snowy background.
Holly has been used in religious festivals since ancient times. The Druids believed holly would afford them protection against evil spirits during their winter solstice festivals. Holly has also figured in December 25th celebrations since ancient Roman times. The Roman god Saturn was always depicted with sacred holly during the Saturnalia festivities bearing his name. At Christmas time, holly is also placed among the decorations. The red berries are thought to represent drops of Christ’s blood and the pointy leaves to be indicative of his crown of thorns.
A note of caution: holly berries are a toxic fruit and should be used carefully when there are small children present. It has been stated by some authorities that eating 20-30 holly berries could prove fatal for a child.