Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. As the days get shorter and cooler, our hearts are often warmed by holiday celebrations and decorations. For the Christmas holiday, plants play a major role among decorations. Wreaths of holly dress our doors, sprigs of mistletoe provide opportunities for a quick kiss, spruces, firs, and pines bring the incense of northern forests to our living rooms, and poinsettias brighten our tables. Where did our use of these plants come from and why do we use them? Over the next few days, we'll explore the lore, legends, and biology associated with holiday plants and talk about their relatives that can be found in Florida environments. Let's begin with holly, a plant whose name is a corruption of the word 'holy.’ Medieval monks believed the plant was holy, and that sprigs of holly could ward off evil. Long before that, however, Chinese decorated their homes with holly during New Year's festivals, and the Romans decorated their homes and temples with holly during their mid-winter feast, exchanging holly branches as gestures of friendship and goodwill. It has long been used as a festive decoration because in northern climates, the evergreen holly, with its bright red berries, added life and color to the winter world.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.