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Linda E Allen

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Decking the Halls The Folklore and Traditions of Christmas Plants
by Linda E Allen   

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Books by Linda E Allen
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Publisher:  Willow Creek Press ISBN-10:  1572233834 Type: 


Copyright:  2000

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Share the pass-along stories and legends ofour traditional Christmas plants with your family and friends. Decking the Halls is a delightful collection of the customs,legends and even the superstitions of the most popular holiday plants.

With so many customs and traditions during the Christmas season, we seldom pause to wonder and ponder about how and why they began.   Christmas has more traditional plants, with their accompanying legends and symbolism, than any other season of the year. 

Holly, ivy, mistletoe, poinsettias, the Yule log, and the most popular and recognized of all - the Christmas tree - each has its own fascinating legend and history. Many customs and traditions of the season are surrounded by an aura of mystery and magic. 

Drawing from ancient Druid, Celtic, Norse and Roman civilizatios, along with Christian beliefs, myths have been created in an effort to explain the unexplainable.  Decking the Halls explores the history of our popular Christmas plants and flowers during this most holy season.

When you give someone a book,

you don't give him just paper, ink and glue. 

You give him the possibility of a whole new life.

~Christopher Morley



Much Ado about the Much-Maligned Mistletoe

From superstitious to sacred, and from ancient pagans to prairie poineers, the strange mistletoe plant has carried with it a mysterious history of both aversion and curiosity. Mistletoe has piqued the curiosity and imagination of both saints and sinners for centuries.

There is a proper etiquette dating back to ancient times about kissing under the mistletoe: the gentleman should pluck one white berry while kissing the lady on the cheek. One kiss is allowed for each berry. When the last berry is gone, there should be no further kissing. A successful kiss under the mistletoe is said to result in marriage, but girls who refuse to be kissed under the mistletoe will become "old maids." Mistletoe is often burned on the Twelfth Night, or January 6th, to break any superstitions that all who kissed under the mistletoe might never marry.

Professional Reviews

Library Thing
A nicely illustrated gift book that briefly recounts some of the folklore behind mistletoe, holly, poinsettia and other Christmas plants. It also covers the symbolism associated with Christmas trees and wreaths and the origin of Christmas treats such as the candy cane. A great introduction to the topic in bite-sized chunks and fun to have out for perusing during the Christmas season.

March 13, 2010

Midwest Book Review
Decking the Halls provides a fine reflection on the folklore and traditions of Christmas plants, considering the legends and symbolism which surround them and the seasonal customs whcih have accompanied popular Christmas blooming plants. Decking the Halls could have been featured in our gardening column, but is recommended here for its historical and social reflection, crossing different cultures in the analysis of plant meaning.

May Dreams Gardens
Several years ago, I bought a copy of Decking the Halls - The Folklore and Traditions of Christmas Plants by Linda Allen. Each year around the holidays, when I unpack all the holiday decorations, I find this book neatly packed away with a few other Christmas books.

I usually end up reading through it during the season to remind myself of all the traditions behind these palnts that are so intertwined with our holiday celebrations. One year, I even put it in my purse and took it to Christmas Eve services to read before the service began. (In my defense, we had to get there way early to get a good seat!)

If you jhave an interest in why and how all these plants ended up being such a big part of what makes Christmas feel like "Christmas" to so many people, you might consider asking Santa to put a copy of this book under the Christmas tree right beside the compost thermometer you asked for.

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