I is for Ivy – the history interpreter’s historical advent calendar

Ivy today in our alphabet. Particularly special as this was my grandmother’s name. Her birthday was 3rd January, so perhaps the Christmas decorations were what inspired my great grandparents.

Ivy Gertrude Woolgar 1893-1963

Ivy Gertrude Woolgar 1893-1963

Ivy

Ivy was a pagan sign of eternal life and this, like other pagan traditions,  was adopted by the Christians to represent everlasting life. Ivy was the symbol of the Roman god Bacchus. Bacchus is depicted wearing an ivy wreath, said to ward off drunkenness. Ivy was seen as the feminine compliment to the ‘masculine’ holly.

On New Year’s Eve people would put an ivy leaf in a dish of water. If it stayed fresh until Twelfth Night it was a sign of a good year to come.

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