The Meaning of the Ivy Plant

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While ivy is valued today mainly for its use as an attractive covering for old and unsightly buildings, it was valued by ancient societies for many other reasons.

Identification

  • Ivy is an evergreen, climbing vine with dark green, glossy, triangular leaves. Ivy climbs using root-like fibers that grow from the stem and are tipped with small, disc-shaped suction cups. Yellow-green clusters of flowers appear in late fall and turn into deep black or purple berries in spring.

History

  • Greek, Roman and Celtic societies venerated the ivy plant for its hardiness and longevity. They believed the plant prevented intoxication, aided fertility and could ease headaches and muscle cramps.

Significance

  • The ivy has been a symbol of fidelity, friendship and affection. Celtic druids considered it a symbol of determination and strength. The Celts also associated ivy with the lunar goddess, Arianrhod, and held it as a portent of death and spiritual rebirth. Ivy has also been associated with the Christian holiday Christmas.

Famous Ties

  • Ancient Romans gave Bacchus, the god of wine and agriculture, a wreath of ivy leaves. Ivy is also associated with the Roman poet Virgil.

Fun Facts

  • Ivy was once outlawed as a Christmas decoration by the early church because of its pagan associations.

    Taverns formerly decorated their signs with ivy symbols to advertise the high quality of their wine.

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References

  • Photo Credit ivy image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com
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