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"The Holly and the Ivy" is an English traditional Christmas song. It contains intermingled Christian and Pagan imagery, with holly and ivy representing Pagan fertility symbols. The red and the green can have another level of symbolism; the red symbolizing the sad fate of the Holy Innocents, and the green symbolizing the promise and new life of Christmas.

The Sans Day Carol has lyrics similar to this song, and both songs may have a common origin.

Lyrics

The holly and the ivy
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown
[Chorus]
The rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing in the choir
The holly bears a blossom
As white as any flower
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Savior
[Chorus]
The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn
[Chorus]
The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good
[Chorus]
The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all
[Chorus]

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