Christmas is fast approaching, and you’ve probably decked out your home in all its holiday finery—maybe even since the onset of the “Ber” months, if you’re like most Pinoys. Despite the wide range of traditional and non-traditional Yuletide décor—from native Belens and parols to more western inflatable penguins, reindeer, and Santa mascots—there is one item that every home will have this season: the Christmas tree. To celebrate the iconic symbol that stands at the heart of most Christmas decorations worldwide, we’ve scoured the web for some interesting bits of tree-via.
Green scene. The traditional western notion of a Christmas tree as an evergreen shrub is meant to promote good cheer and hope in a bleak winter season. According to this About.com guide, when everything on the landscape is dead or dormant, evergreens—and symbolically, Christmas trees—bring to mind the promise of a green landscape when spring comes.
Sol-searching. Ancient civilizations that worshipped the sun as a god feared winter as a time when the sun became sick and weak. These peoples—as diverse as the Egyptians, the Romans, and the Celtic Druids—looked forward to the end of the cold season, which was marked by the winter solstice (the shortest day and longest night of the year), because it meant the sun god would begin to get well and bring their crops back. Many of these existing traditions, which often made use of evergreen plants, were integrated into the celebration of Christmas, which falls around the time of the solstice. This is why people say this Christian tradition has pagan origins.
In the brush. The first artificial Christmas tree was created by a company that manufactured toilet brushes. In the 1930’s, the Addis Brush Company made the first fake Christmas tree with the same machines they used to make their brushes—only they made sure the bristles were green!
Anti-evil adornment. The tradition of decorating the tree with ornaments can be traced back to the practice of hanging bells in evergreen boughs to protect against evil spirits, according to this Suite101.com article. Today ornaments come in all shapes and sizes—from the traditional and natural, to the weird and wild, to mini representations of one of modern society’s new icons—the Starbucks coffee cup !
Good grief! Stunted, malformed, and otherwise pitiable-looking trees are called Charlie Brown Christmas trees, after the lovable loser’s Christmas tree appeared in the TV special “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” These trees have an underdog appeal of their own, and many people seek them out for their unassuming charm. Check out these trees at apartmenttherapy.com and see if you’d want to adopt any of them for your home.
To tree or not to tree? In the US and other western countries, a lively debate rages over whether it is more eco-friendly to use natural live trees or fake ones. It is a generally accepted fact, though, that many artificial trees manufactured in China contain PVC (polyvinyl chloride). PVC is known to be toxic and can cause cancer, damage immune functions, and stunt children’s development.
Fake firs. Since we don’t have the option of choosing real trees in the Philippines, it looks like we’re stuck with artificial ones. However, a wide range of stylish, quirky, and eco-friendly versions exist. Just check out these ideas to reinvent your basic Christmas tree: some are made in graphic, eco-friendly renewable wood and cardboard (more trees here), others rest on walls instead of floors and are comprised of recycled cards, and still others can be made with everyday objects—and a little creativity.
If you could use a live tree, would you? What do you think of the new crop of eco-friendly designer wood trees? Share your thoughts! Leave a comment below or talk it up with other GIRLTalkers on our forum!