If you know your Greek myths – or like me, have watched Inspector Morse – then you may have heard of Dionysus, the God of drinking and parties. He was almost always shown as wearing a crown made of ivy and carrying a staff with ivy wound around it.
Dionysus was the god of the harvest who travelled the world searching for the secret of winemaking. The Greeks were enthusiastic wine lovers and lots of ancient festivals were dedicated to Dionysus.
The association of wine and ivy continued in early taverns, with many medieval inns having ivy carved onto doorways and signs to show they sold alcohol.
Ivy wood was used to carve wine goblets from and it was thought that if you drank from them, the alcohol wouldn’t affect you as much. Righto…
Ivy’s also the plant of creativity, of flashes of inspiration and the wellspring of ideas. It was thought to symbolise both death and rebirth and plays a part in the Christmas traditions in the hymn The Holly and the Ivy, a nod to the ever-changing seasons.