Druids believed holly was sacred and eternal, ancient Romans thought holly protected against maledictions and planted it near their houses, and superstitious English maintained that whoever in a couple brought the first sprigs of Christmas holly indoors would be the one who wore the pants in the family for the coming year.
In France, where the Roman traditions left their mark, it was once the custom to hang a holly branch on the doors of stables and houses on Christmas Eve to guard against harm. Still today some French observe the custom of not bringing holly into the house until December 24 lest it bring bad luck. (I might add that there is a practical side to that habit, considering how painfully prickly dried-up holly is.)
Another curiosity is that in olden days French wagon drivers would even insert a small piece of holly wood into their new wagon's assembly to protect against accidents.
un houx: a holly
une écurie: a stable
un charretier: a cart or wagon driver
une charrette: a cart
©2011 P.B. Lecron