Appalachia Christmas

Holly Leaves

Playing with holly leaves blowing them round and round

Tipper-Do any of your readers remember, taking a sharp pointed holly leaf, putting it between your middle finger and thumb. Holding ever so lightly, (cause it is prickly) give it a slight puff of air and watch it spin round and round. We always tried to see who could get theirs spinning the fastest and longest…without poking the heck out of our tender young fingers….LOL
I think this is an Appalachian game, it was taught to me by parents..

B. Ruth – December 2012


I remember blowing on holly leaves just as B.Ruth described. Granny has a holly tree in her yard, but I know that’s not where I learned the game. Seems like maybe there was one near the old Martins Creek School? Or maybe somebody taught me to hold gently and blow on a trip up the creek.

For 2 other Holly related posts check out the links below:



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  • Reply
    Ricky Stonecypher
    December 16, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    I can remember spinning holly leaf with my grandmother and mom. You brought back some great memories. Thank’s

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    December 18, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    I’ve never heard of this game, but was a cute sounding way to keep kids busy for a little while.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    December 18, 2015 at 7:22 am

    Ed-LOL well I guess whoever taught me to to blow the leaf didn’t know what they were talking about because that’s the all us kids here blew it.

  • Reply
    December 18, 2015 at 12:19 am

    Your pictorial does not exactly describe your narrative. You (or whoever is holding the holly leaf, is holding it the wrong way to twirl it with your breath.) They must hold it on the horizontal axis and blow against one end or the other. I am sure it doesn’t matter at all to most folks but to me it is important.
    Most people can go to a store and buy a toy that when you blow on it will twirl. That is all I can say today. I have exceeded my limit.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    December 17, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    With only about 10 minutes left, Donna Lynn played Paul and Pap singing “Silent Night” on WKRK. It’s Beautiful! …Ken

  • Reply
    December 17, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    I do a bit of woodworking and Holly is my wood of choice. It has some peculiarities one must overcome to get desirable results. I find it has to be cut in winter and debarked immediately, and completely, otherwise the wood will take on a green tint. The bark is tight in winter so there is no peeling it. I use a small knife for the outer layers and a scraper or wood rasp for the inner. Once you remove the bark, you must seal the ends and knots to minimize cracking and checking (I put the ends into a worn out saucepan with ¼” of melted wax.) I bring it in the house to dry in more consistent temperature and humidity conditions.
    The wood itself doesn’t have much character other than its white color. It will turn blonde rather quickly if left exposed. Many finishes will change the color. Holly can be painted into a perfectly smooth finish. It is sometimes used to make piano keys.
    I found one holly that was wrapped in vines. When I debarked it there were lines in the wood which I could not sand out so I decided to use to for something I would paint. Then it dawned on me. “That looks like marble!” “What can I make from this little piece of wood that looks like marble?” “A rolling pin!” If you would like to see the result go to;
    The finish did give it an amber color but I still think it looks like marble.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    December 17, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    I really liked all my teachers in school. One of my favorite is Roy Pipes and he taught my oldest daughter 20 or 21 years later. Wonder how many folks can say
    that! She cherished him too. In his comment today Roy talked about the fun of making homeade toys. One we made was a Flying Ginny. It consisted of a corn cob broke in half and 2 Wing Feathers from a chicken turned back to back and stuck in the center of the cob. We put a nail in the other end so it would stick in things when we throwed. It was fun to watch it twirl in the air and the old light pole had so many holes in it, looked like a peckerwood had been all over it…Ken

  • Reply
    Doug Bishop
    December 17, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Was a tradtion: Cutting Holly and misteltoe

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 17, 2015 at 11:42 am

    I have been drawing Holly leaves for the past few days…Imagine my surprise when I saw this post.
    We have several Hollies around our place now…although small. Also the birds have seeded Magnolia trees in different areas on our place and the native Mahonia, we have some wonderful birds. ha I shutter to think that they would (but don’t) spread those tons of sunflower seed we feed them…ha
    I prefer the native trees to the hybrid varieties of Holly shrubs. One of the last times my son visited he looked out the dining room door windows and exclaimed…”Mom, it that huge Holly tree the tiny wild one we planted years ago…the one we didn’t think would make it? Amazing isn’t it, I said.” Like me he loved Holly trees and Christmas.
    I showed both my boys how to spin a Holly leaf…
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…Magnolia, Holly, Club moss, Galax, Cedars and Pine are some of my Christmas favorite greenery for decorating at Christmas. Oh, and less not forget Mistletoe…and Ivy! We had a bunch of Mistletoe growing in our old Maple tree…We think it was because the big branch It was on was in line with the most moisture that traveled across our hill!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    December 17, 2015 at 11:28 am

    And B. Ruth, I do remember spinning holly leaves between your thumb and fingers. When I was very young, a man used to take us boys over to Big Choga where we’d try to jump deer for him. I hunted with a 6.5 Mauser. It was an Italian rifle and I had to be careful not to job the long barrel in the ground. But I could drive nails with that thing. This was way before I was a teenager. Matter of fact, daddy took me, my brother, and 1st cousin over to Little Choga and I was only 9,
    but after watching a big deer swim the lake, I put a punkinball from a 12 gauge right in that booger’s ribs. I laughed at Daddy field dressing and puking like a sick dog. My brother shot also and put 7 out of 9 Buckshot in his ribs, along with a 30-30 slug from my cousin. I still ain’t seen a Buck that big, it had 22 points. One of my nephews still has them horns…Ken

  • Reply
    Barbara Gantt
    December 17, 2015 at 10:11 am

    I never played that game. My Momma would always send Daddy out to search for holly with berries.We didnt have any holly growing on our land. My Grandparents lived in a Duke Power house. There were woods around their house. Daddy would go there. There wasnt always berrys so it was a big deal when they had them. We would have a big vase of holly for Christmas. No holly here . I miss it. Barbara

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 17, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Hmmmm never held one vertically. We held them by the spines along the middle. As one might expect, the spines drilled into the fingers if they spun very long.
    Holly is one of my favorite trees. I wonder why it is not used more in handcrafts. It has a beautiful fine-grained white wood. It could look great in wood mosaic art. The combination of white snow, red berries and dark green leaves just says Christmas! to me.

  • Reply
    Barb Wright
    December 17, 2015 at 8:46 am

    We don’t have any holly trees here, but we always did the same thing with the seeds from hard maple trees. They look like little helicopters going down. I still do it..only with my grandkids. I still get a kick out of it!!

  • Reply
    William Roy Pipes
    December 17, 2015 at 8:11 am

    I have – those were our toys. Others were homemade toys like tops, wagons, whirly gigs, popguns etc. Lots of fun – more fun in the making.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 17, 2015 at 8:02 am

    Tip, I’ve never done that or seen it done. You’ll have to show me at Grannies on Christmas.

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