Sunday, 4 December 2016

Christmas Countdown and Traditions Day Four

Hello Friends!

Here is this morning's Advent calendar door, December 4th ~~~



Today's Christmas Traditions and Trivia is about the omni~present Christmas Tree.

We all know that the Victorians, more specifically Prince Albert, are generally considered responsible for the popularity of the decorated indoor Christmas tree, but here are a couple of things about Christmas trees you might not know ~~~

Although the Germans are widely credited with the first Christmas trees, it is known that people across Europe decorated their homes at this time of year with evergreen foliage such as holly, ivy, and pine boughs for centuries. Some of the earliest trees are thought to be branches of fir trees tied together in a triangular shape. Records from the sixteenth century indicate that decorated trees in Latvia and Estonia were burned after people had danced around them; in the early 1600's there is evidence from Strasbourg of trees decorated with paper roses {the Virgin}, wafers {the Eucharist}, pretzels {arms folded in prayer} apples and sweets.

Today, brightly lit and decorated Christmas trees pop up in public spaces in every city, town and village across the land, providing a focal point that reminds us of the Christmas season. The sites of these trees often become the scene of gatherings as each tree is lit during a special ceremony where villagers or townsfolk gather, singing carols, listening to local choirs and musicians, or local school children reading scripture, while drinking hot chocolate or mulled apple cider and eating mince pies or other seasonal confections.  These events often culminate with the arrival of Father Christmas who gives a small gift to each child.

I love to walk through my own village in that early hour just before dawn to see the tree which stands in the centre of the village in all it's glory, brightly lit in the darkness, a shining beacon of hope as the sun starts to rise, slowly, from the east.  I am often alone as the village lies sleeping, or just stirring from slumber, and there is a stillness and certain beauty in the moment that cannot be put into words. I like to believe it is the stirring of my ancient ancestors who did not understand the shortening and darkening of the days as the year slowly turned, but who welcomed the return of the light at this time of year in jubilant celebration of the lengthening days.

One British Christmas tree in particular is a very special tree indeed, and that is the tree which proudly stands in Trafalgar Square in London.

The Trafalgar Square tree is gifted every year to the people of Great Britain by the city of Oslo in Norway in gratitude for assistance to Norway during World War II. It bears a plaque which reads:
This tree is given by the city of Oslo as a token of Norwegian gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during the years 1940-45.

A tree has been given annually since 1947.
You can read more about this special tree here.

Do you decorate a tree in your home? I've seen images of some really lovely trees being shared across social media along with the history and heritage of ornaments that are handed down from generation to generation across the years ~~~

Until next time ~~~
~~~Deborah xoxo

8 comments:

  1. Dear Deb: I love the additional information about the Christmas tree. I knew about the Germans and Prince Albert, but not the earlier traditions. I also so resonate with your early morning rambles. I, too, am walking just before sunrise around our lakes. I'm ususally the only one around, especially in cold winter. Some mornings the mist is rising off of them, and I often feel like I am in Middle Earth with Tom Bombadil along the Withywindle! I just completed decorating our tree yesterday! And it is always a delightful moment when the lights are on in the evening and early morning. I turn it on each morning before Gene arises while it is still dark and I am alone, doing my early reading and journaling. Thank you again for a lovely blog! Jane xoxo

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    1. So glad you found out something new Jane! At the moment I cannot indulge in my early morning walks, but the memory is strong and I can often wander off in my mind's eye! How wonderful to have a lakeside ramble all to yourself.
      ~~~Deb xo

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  2. Deb, the gesture of the Norwegians is so touching. I love how you described your own village's Christmas tree. That must be quite moving to be alone as the sun rises. Thank you for sharing the traditions of long ago and present. Have a lovely afternoon, dear friend. xoxo ♥

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    1. Thank you Martha Ellen. I'm trying to do something different by way of the traditions and trivia every day, some personal and local, others more global. Soon it will be time for the Icelandic Yuletide Lads to appear!
      ~~~Deb xoxo

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  3. I love the description of your early morning homage to the tree at the centre of the village - I'm gonna try that one, sounds perfect.

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    1. It is such a lovely peaceful time, with the village just starting to stir. Deb xo

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Thank you for stopping by today ~ I love reading your comments