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Showing posts from December, 2017

Blog Caroling 2017 -- The Holly and the Ivy

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Joining footnoteMaven's annual tradition of Christmas blog caroling!  I've chosen one of my favorite carols to present:

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"The Holly and the Ivy" is an English carol that probably had its origins in the 18th century.  Holly is an ancient symbol for Christ, sometimes referred to as "Christ's thorns," and the berries stand in for drops of blood.  The holly and the ivy together represent Jesus and the Virgin Mary.  The use of holly and ivy as decorations predates Christ, however -- they go back to Roman times and pagan celebrations.  
The melody is simple and sweet.  


Why does the ivy appear so little in the song?  Folklorists guess that it's a holdover from older songs like "The Contest between the Holly and the Ivy," in which the holly represents the masculine and the ivy the feminine.
The symbolism is embedded in the lyrics.
1The holly and the ivy,When they are both full grown,Of all the trees that are in the wood,The ho…

Whatever happened to Baby Dorothy?

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A few years ago, someone told me that if you're stuck on a particular ancestor's story, you should write down everything you know.  I did it for my great-grandfather, Joseph Ortmann, and now I'd like to try it for my paternal grandmother, Mary/Marie/Maria/May/Mae Siegler Ortman (yes, she did use all those variations of her name over her lifetime).

Mary A. Siegler was born on March 23,1895, in Woodhaven, New York; her parents were George Siegler, a barber, and the former Matilda Hug.  In May of 1889, a brother, Nicholas, was born, but unfortunately he lived only a few months, dying in August, 1889.  After many years passed, George and Matilda had another child, Dorothy G. Siegler, in 1912, making a more than 16-year difference between the two sisters (though I remember clearly my grandmother telling me many times it was a 12-year difference -- don't we all shave off a year or two where we can?).

In 1916, when Mary was 20, she married a bank clerk named Frank Sanger*, ag…