"The Holly and the Ivy": a Re-Heathenized Traditional Yuletide Carol
Note: this song, in its Christianized form, was sung at the
Lexington Unitarian Universalist Church in December 1999. The following comments
were printed on the songsheet: "In early times, when reference was made in song
or verse to 'holly' or 'ivy,' the meaning was symbolic: holly stood for the
male, ivy for the female." This commentary, plus the reference to the Sun and
deer, made it clear to me that the song should be Re-Heathenized as a Frey and
Freya song appropriate for the Winter Solstice. Please see my article on the
Rune Elhaz linked from "Rune-of-the-Month Club" on my main page for more
information. If anyone knows of other verses, please e-mail them to me. Those
interested in publishing or recording it, please contact me. Thanks!
"The Holly and the Ivy, when they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the Holly bears the crown:
The rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The toasting of Njordh's Children, the Boar's Head on the plate."
Further notes: Njordh is the father of Frey and Freya, both of whom ride a
golden boar. The line replaced in the Re-Heathenization process was the last
one, which in the Christian version went: "The playing of the merry organ, sweet
singing in the choir." Personally, while I have nothing against organs and
choirs; I'd much prefer the "Lord" and "Lady" (the meanings of "Frey" and
"Freya") and the Boar's Head!