LIFE had become more colourful for a holly bush in Mr John Cunningham’s front garden on Hardy Mill Road, Harwood.

After barren years, the branches had sprouted, literally overnight, clusters of red berries. There’s just catch - the berries were plastic!

“I just got up one morning and there they were. Hundreds of plastic berries carefully fixed to the branches,” said engineer Mr Cunningham.

“I could hardly believe my eyes. The bush is at least 30 years old, and has never borne berries because there are no other bushes around here with which to cross-pollinate.”

Whoever was responsible for placing the berries remains a mystery following the incident in January 1975.

“I have no idea who did it. Maybe it’s some one’s idea of a joke. I certainly find it amusing,” added Mr Cunningham.

The bush was over 15ft high and was a striking feature of the area. Mr Cunningham’s home had a name too - Holly Berry House.

Holly, Ivy and other greenery such as Mistletoe were originally used in pre-Christian times to help celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival and ward off evil spirits and to celebrate new growth. The Druids, who regarded holly as a symbol of fertility and eternal life, would hang it on windows and doorways to fend off evil witches and spirits

When Christianity came into Western Europe, some people wanted to keep the greenery, to give it Christian meanings but also to ban the use of it to decorate homes. The UK and Germany were the main countries to keep the use of the greenery as decorations.

With holly, the prickly leaves are supposed to represent the crown of thorns that Jesus wore when he was crucified. The berries are the drops of blood that were shed by Jesus because of the thorns.

In pagan times, Holly was thought to be a male plant and Ivy a female plant. An old tradition from the Midlands of England says that whatever one was brought into the house first over winter, tells you whether the man or woman of the house would rule that year! But it was unlucky to bring either into a house before Christmas Eve.