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Did you know about the gender politics of 'The Holly and the Ivy' - or the mouse who gave us 'Silent Night'? Anne Marie-Minhall takes a look at some of the amazing stories behind our best-loved Christmas carols.
This evergreen carol mixes up both Christian and pagan imagery. In ancient times, during the winter, singing contests were held between men and women in villages around the country. The male contingent would sing carols praising the masculine holly and being rather dismissive of the feminine ivy whilst for the women it was the other way around. There was usually a happy ending though as the two groups would eventually join together under the mistletoe.
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