What country does the Christmas carol, 'The Holly and the Ivy', originate?
"The Holly and the Ivy" is a traditional British folk Christmas carol. The song is catalogued as Roud Folk Song Index No. 514.
The words of the carol occur in three broadsides published in Birmingham in the early nineteenth century.
An early mention of the carol's title occurs in William Hone's 1823 work Ancient Mysteries Described, which includes "The holly and the ivy, now are both well grown" among an alphabetical list of "Christmas Carols, now annually printed" that were in the author's possession.
The complete words of the carol are found in a book review dating from 1849, in which the reviewer suggested using the text of "The Holly and the Ivy" in place of one of the readings found in the book under discussion.
The words of the carol were included in Sylvester's 1861 collection A Garland of Christmas Carols where it is claimed to originate from "an old broadside, printed a century and a half since". Husk's 1864 Songs of the Nativity also includes the carol, stating:
This carol appears to have nearly escaped the notice of collectors, as it has been reprinted by one alone, who states his copy to have been taken from "an old broadside, printed a century and a half since," i.e. about 1710. It is still retained on the broadsides printed at Birmingham.