The holly flower has both ancient and modern meanings symbolizing both fertility and magical powers as well as Christmas in the modern day. The holly flower is a widely-recognized symbol all over the world.
What is the History of Holly Flower Tattoos?
The holly flower itself dates back to the 12th century when the first known examples of it were written about. The flower is known to be a fan of the colder weather as it is native to North America and has other variations of the plant throughout Europe.
In fact, you can find the plant almost anywhere in the world, except on continents with a warmer climate such as Australia and Africa!
Although you may think that all holly plants produce berries you would in fact be wrong as only the female plants have this ability.
Holly is impressive as the shrub can grow up to 15 feet in size and dares anyone to touch its sharp and pointed leaves. Its berries are also poisonous to humans, although they make a great snack for winter birds such as robins.
Over the years the meaning behind this plant has changed and now it is very strongly associated with the Christian celebration of Christmas. In fact, you are very likely to see wreaths made from it, cards and other decorations depicting it and some people may even sing songs about it!
However, even though holly has come to also be a secular symbol of Christmas, the Christian tradition equates the sharp leaves to the thorns placed on Jesus’ head, the berries as a symbol of his blood and the greenness of the leaves (an evergreen shrub) a sign of everlasting life.
Because of its strong ties to Christmas, although holly would make a beautiful tattoo thanks to its recognizable shape and bright colors, many people shy away from holly tattoos as they may seem seasonal and its other symbolism would be lost to most onlookers.
What Do Holly Flower Symbolize?
The holly flower has different symbolism depending on which area you are delving into. For example, historical symbolism varies greatly from religious symbolism which varies greatly from secular symbolism. Here we will run you through all of them!
In regards to Celtic myth, this plant was one of the most revered, along with its twin the oak tree. They believed that the oak ruled the light months and the holly ruled the dark months. So, the plant symbolized good luck and it was common for people to wear a wreath of holly on their heads to protect them.
It was also common to place it near a newborn baby as a sign of protection or to bathe them in holly water.
For them, this plant was a symbol of fertility, good luck and magical powers. Overall, a very good thing to keep as a wreath in your home!
Today the holly plant has come to symbolize winter and the Christmas period, both in secular society and in the Christian tradition. In secular society, the plant symbolizes the colder months and good tidings along with a whole host of other meanings that are typically associated with the winter months.
This symbolism includes giving thanks, being kind towards others, being with family and generally being joyous.
Within the Christian religion, the plant has specific symbolic meaning as stated above (the berries as Christ’s blood, the leaves as the crown of thorns and the evergreen leaves also as a sign of eternal life).
What Do Holly Flower Tattoos Mean?
When it comes to the holly flower itself there are several different colors to take into consideration to make sure that your tattoo holds the right meaning that is personal to you.
The white version of this flower means holiness and good fortune, tying it in with the more general symbolism of the plant in Celtic and Christian tradition.
The pink holly flower means beauty and enchantment – a meaning that is quite obvious when you see the stunning pale color of its petals.
In keeping with many other flowers of the same color, the yellow version of this flower represents happiness, joy and friendship. However, the fact that this flower is less common than many others given to family and friends can make it extra special.
If you are looking to give a loved one a more unusual flower then you need not look any further than the green holly flower. A very odd color for a flower, but beautiful nonetheless! This represents foresight and protection.
Where Do Holly Flower Tattoos Usually Go?
There are many different ways that you can depict this plant and so the style and design that you choose will greatly affect which area suits the tattoo best. For example, if you opt to include a lot of leaves and end up with a more rounded tattoo then you will need a decent amount of space. In this case the arm would be a good placement.
If you are opting for a single sprig then placed upwards from the ankle or wrist are fantastic locations to showcase the elegance of this flower.
Remember that there is no right or wrong answer to tattoo placement. You should always listen to your artist’s recommendations but ultimately the decision is yours. Consider whether or not you want the tattoo to be on show.
Characteristics and Styles of Holly Flower Tattoos
There are so many different styles and designs that suit a holly tattoo. For example, you can opt for the berries, flowers, or both (obviously giving a more symbolic meaning than a real depiction of the plant).
You can choose a rounded shape with the pointed leaves forming a circle and include the flowers in bold colors, contrasting the delicate hues of the petals to the bold green of the leaves.
You can also opt for a more delicate version of the holly flower and opt for a black and white version to keep the meaning special for you.