No prizes for guessing that one of the birth flowers this month is the joyfully festive holly, despite the fact it’s technically not a flower. The other for this month is the narcissus - from the same family as the daffodil.
Traditionally, holly symbolises the wish for domestic happiness - exactly what you want for the festive period, even if it doesn’t always happen! While it’s main meaning is jolly, many cultures have also used holly as a means for protecting homes from evil spirits, whether by placing sprigs around the home, or using branches as walking sticks or carrying them while out and about.
In Christianity, the berries were believed to be white, and then stained with the blood of Christ, and the spiked holly leaves represented the crown of thorns. Druids would decorate their homes with it around and during the winter solstice (21st December) to symbolise the renewal of life and light as the days start to get longer.
Some folklore has also suggested that planting holly next to your house could even prevent it from lightning strikes.
Gifting the narcissus, also known as paperwhite, means you’d like your loved ones to stay just the way they are, and provide them with good wishes and respect. These flowers can be gifted as bulbs, as well as cut flowers, and their easy to grow conditions mean your recipient will have flowers within a matter of weeks.
In true Christmas spirit, researchers at Cornell University found that adding a shot of gin or vodka to the water stops narcissus from drooping as they grow taller, this means you can enjoy their fragrant scent and dainty blooms for even longer. Each bulb can produce up to 12 flowers and while it is highly fragrant, it is also toxic.
The flower also represents the Chinese Lunar New Year, as it is one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, with many believing it will also bring wealth and good fortune. It has also become a symbol for many cancer charities and organisations around the world due to its links with hope.