Japanese Ikebana Arrangements for Christmas

  • 01 of 14

    What Is Ikebana?

    Ikebana with roses
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    Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arrangement, is growing in popularity in the Western hemisphere. In contrast to traditional Western Christmas flower displays, which are sometimes lush to the extreme, ikebana values the empty space in an arrangement, and may only contain one flowering stem.

    Christmas ikebana arrangements bring a sense of peace and calm into your home or office in a season sometimes characterized by a frantic pace. If you are a beginning ikebana practitioner, you can gain inspiration from the holiday ikebana displays in this gallery.

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  • 02 of 14

    Keeping Flowers in Their Place

    Ikebana with ornaments
    Wendy Chen/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
    In ikebana, glass containers are valued for their ability to reflect and refract light. This designer expands on that characteristic by including shimmering silver ornaments in her Christmas arrangement. Special flower holders called kenzan, which resemble the flower frog pins used in Western arrangements, are often used to anchor the stems of flowers and foliage in ikebana.
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  • 03 of 14

    Camellia Ikebana

    Camellia flower Ikebana
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    In Japan, the camellia blossom represents humility, discretion, and the perfect love. Camellia flowers grow from late fall to early spring, providing ample fresh flower material to create an exquisite holiday Ikebana arrangement for your perfect love. Camellia blooms are heavy, so keep stems short and use the support of kenzan to prevent the flowers from flopping over. 

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  • 04 of 14

    The Perfection of One Bloom

    Single rose Ikebana
    Junko Murai/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    The use of a kenzan flower pin supports a single red rose, Christmas greens, and Christmas berries in a traditional ceramic ikebana container. Practicing ikebana flower design allows flower gardeners to create beautiful arrangements from their garden without removing too many flowers from the landscape.

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  • 05 of 14

    Asymmetrical Design Elements

    Ikebana artists are experts at exploiting the beauty of asymmetry. Perfect symmetry is rare in nature, and ikebana strives to connect with nature. Even though many ikebana arrangements feature asymmetry, they do so in a way that is both dynamic and calming.
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  • 06 of 14

    Ikebana Containers

    Palm frond Ikebana
    Katerina Mezhekova/Sergey Bespeliukhin

    In ikebana arrangements, high quality containers are integral to the overall design, and the container itself may be a work of art. Ceramic containers with strong geometric lines are prevalent in many designs, but just as many artists favor containers that mimic things found in nature, such as tree bark or stones.

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  • 07 of 14

    Connect With Ikebana Aficianados

    If you desire to connect with other ikebana artists, consider becoming a member of Ikebana International. This organization, founded in 1956, furthers the study of ikebana through exhibits, lectures, and special tours. Members also receive the quarterly publication Ikebana International, which features glossy full-color photos of ikebana design.

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  • 08 of 14

    Ikebana for Weddings

    What if you’re having a Christmas wedding, but you just aren’t enamored with the standard overflowing arrangements of calla lilies, red roses, or white carnations? A trained ikebana artist can give your December wedding a contemporary feel with typical winter flowers presented in modern form. You can find florists with experience in ikebana design in many larger metropolitan areas.

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  • 09 of 14

    Learning Ikebana

    If you’re interested in learning the art of ikebana, the best style to start with is Moribana. This simple, freestyle arrangement makes the 600-year-old art of Japanese flower arranging accessible to everyone. Nageire is also a freeform style of ikebana often practiced by beginners, but uses tall vases without kenzan pinholders.
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  • 10 of 14

    A New Look for Poinsettias

    An ikebana Christmas arrangement featuring a poinsettia is a new and dramatic way to display these traditional holiday flowers. Poinsettias don’t last long as cut flowers, but one way to extend their life in the vase is to sear the stems with a flame to stem the flow of sap. Recut the stem every three days, or consider using a variety bred for cutting like ‘Renaissance Red.’

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  • 11 of 14

    Traditional Ikebana Vases

    Natural cherry bark vases are classical vessels for ikebana arrangements. When harvested properly, cherry bark is a renewable resource that doesn’t harm the tree. Trained craftsmen can peel off a thin piece of bark and apply it to a vase, box, or tray, and the tree grows a new layer of bark.

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  • 12 of 14

    Tropical Christmas Blooms

    Ikebana in red vase
    Katerina Mezhekova/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Ornithogalum still in bud lends a festive green hue to this Christmas ikebana arrangement. These tender bulbs are native to frost free areas of Africa, and are popular winter flowers known in the florist trade as Star-of-Bethlehem.

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  • 13 of 14

    Ikebana Classes

    Ikebana with pine branches
    Christel Boon/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Give yourself or someone else the gift of knowledge for the holidays: Consider taking a class in ikebana to master the elements of rikki, shoka, moribana, nageire, and freestyle ikebana. Here is a sampling of institutes of learning that offer ikebana lessons:

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  • 14 of 14

    Ikebana With Berries

    Ikebana with red berries
    Keiko Iwabuchi/Getty Images

    During the winter holidays, when fresh flowers may be in short supply, red berries make a festive stand-in for the Ikebana arrangement. Holly or hypericum berries are widely available, and usually have a longer life after cutting than flowers do.