The version we of the Holly and the Ivy that we are familiar with today was first published by Cecil Sharp. The Holly and the Ivy is thought to have Pagan origins and could therefore date back over 1000 years. It is most unusual for a carol like the Holly and the Ivy to have survived over the years especially during the stern protestant period of the 17th century.
The Holly and the Ivy have always been taken indoors during the winter the hope being that the occupants would survive difficult conditions just like the hardy Holly and the Ivy. The colours of the Holly and Ivy, green and red are traditionally associated with Christmas. The author and composer of the Holly and the Ivy are unknown.