Advent Calendar Day 24: The Holly and the Ivy (Trad. Arranged Shaw)

The Holly and the Ivy has been one of my favourite Christmas Carols since I was quite young – I think I first heard it when my family stayed for a few months in England when I was six, and I rather imprinted on it because there was *actual holly* near where we lived and that was pretty exciting.  Australia doesn’t really run much to holly, especially around Christmas.

This is one of those carols which tends to show its Pagan roots, while simultaneously being very very Christian and going, ‘no, really, the holly is totally all about being a symbol of Christ’s passion and has nothing to do with Yule, honest!’.  So it always sits just a little oddly with me, even though I love both the melody and the words, with their vivid visual imagery.  There are a lot of arrangements doing the rounds – I’m also fond of the Mediaeval Baebes version, and if you ever wondered what Annie Lennox does with it, wonder no longer!  I especially like her jazz harmonies in the later verses.  Gorgeous.

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