|'Now the holly bears a berry . . .'|
trad. Christmas carol
I had not realized until now that the prickles on the leaves afford two-fold protection for small birds. They provide security during winter storms and also a measure of safety from predators. The Welsh word, 'celyn', which I see on road names around my home, means 'holly'. The botanical name is 'ilex'.
The wood from holly (that sounds less confusing than holly wood!) has been used in the making of 'white' chess pieces. Holly was also used for winter fodder before the agrarian measures introduced by a Norfolk man, Turnip Townshend (and here).
Holly reminds us of Christmas by its very nature, as we know from the words of the carol I used as a caption above. The red berries remind us that Christ came to bring salvation through the shedding of his blood. The prickles are a picture of the crown of thorns.