2016 has been a fantastic year for Halesworth In Bloom and none of it was achievable without hard work and dedication of the volunteers, the businesses and the people of Halesworth.
There are many associations that link the Robin with Christmas. The image of a Robin at Christmas time is one that brings cheer to us all. These small, often inquisitive birds have a brightness and warmth that lights the dark and cold winter months.
The third verse of William Allingham’s classic Victorian poem, Robin Redbreast, reminds us to consider the birds.
The fireside for the Cricket,
The wheatstack for the Mouse,
When trembling night-winds whistle
And moan all round the house;
The frosty ways like iron,
The branches plumed with snow, --
Alas! in Winter, dead and dark,
Where can poor Robin go?
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
And a crumb of bread for Robin,
His little heart to cheer.
For Robin’s and all birds that visit our gardens, a few crumbs or better still a bird feeder help to supplement their natural food supply that dwindles at this time of year. Feeding these guests allows us to get really close to them and the more you look, the more you see their fantastic colours and interesting behaviours.
At a time when we all benefit from sharing our homes with family, friends and neighbours, we can benefit also by sharing our gardens with wildlife.
For a few days around the time of the winter solstice the sun appears to stand still in the sky in that its elevation at noon does not seem to change. The winter solstice date is normally considered to be the 21st of December in the northern hemisphere, however at the winter solstice the position of the sun remains the same for three days. It is a turning point - the day that marks the return of the sun.
Many cultures the world over perform solstice ceremonies. At their root, an ancient fear that the failing light would never return unless humans intervened with ritual and ceremony.
Yule is the day of the winter solstice, the one of the longest night. This solar festival falls close to Christmas and is a time when our houses are adorned with many decorative plants that find their roots in many ancient traditions.
Holly berries, cloaked in sharp green leaves, are brightest in winter. The Celts of the British Isles and Gaul believed the Holly King ruled over winter and death.
In Scandinavian mythology, the holly belonged to Thor & Freya. The plant’s association with Thor's lightning meant that it could protect people from being struck by his bolts.
Norsemen and Celts would plant a holly tree near their homes to ward off lightning strikes. The crooked lines of the holly leaves most likely gave rise to its association with lightning, as well as the fact that holly conducts lightning into the ground better than most trees.
The use of ivy as a decoration dates back to Roman times, when it became associated with Bacchus - the god of revelry. It symbolized prosperity and charity, and so for early Christians was used during Christmas - a time to celebrate good times and to provide for the less fortunate.
The Christmas carol, "The Holly and the Ivy" has its roots in an English tradition from the Middle Ages. The soft ivy was twined around the more prickly holly in arrangements. Not only was this for aesthetic purposes, but the holly symbolized males and the ivy females. Their combination representing a good-natured rivalry between the two.
A botanical curiosity, mistletoe is the only complete plant that is a true parasite, often killing the hardwood tree it infests. For this reason, it was credited with magical properties by ancient societies and held sacred.
The Druids made great use of the plant in celebrations. In a ceremony held five days past the New Moon following the winter solstice, Druid priests would climb an oak tree and cut down the mistletoe. Crowds below would catch it in outstretched robes, as even a single sprig hitting the ground would bring bad luck. Catching it, on the other hand, was believed to bring fertility for animals.
In ancient Scandinavia, mistletoe was believed to symbolize peace. If enemies happened to meet under trees with mistletoe, they would disarm and call a truce for the day.
Many believe the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe is an English custom, which dictates that after each kiss, one white berry must be plucked from the bunch and discarded. When the berries are all gone, the kissing must stop. Needless to say, bunches with many berries were highly sought!
Happy Winter Solstice blessings to you all.
Snowmen are hiding in the shop windows of Halesworth! Collect the letters from each one to solve the festive anagrams and you could win a prize!
Yuletide joy came to Magnolia House with a celebration of all that has been achieved this year. A great deal of the good work that is done by Halesworth in Bloom simply couldn't happen without the hard work and support of the Traders and Volunteers. We give our thanks to them all.
APOLOGIES FOR NO BLOGS but BT blocked access to our website!!! Weebly not suitable for children!! I needed parental control! But, during long weekend in Copenhagen found an amazing organic garden. Everything recycled.
William Jackson Hooker our illustrious elder former Halesworthian's Kew Gardens and Palm Houses are the model for the Botanical Gardens in Copenhagen