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Deck the Halls!

by dig the dirt editor

Classic holiday greenery and old standards made lovingly with innovative materials will give your holiday decorating a new look and perhaps begin traditions of your own. Here's how some of our most treasured traditions got their start.

 

 

DECK THE HALLS!

 

Decking your halls with boughs of holly (and everything else) is part of the centuries-old tradition of decorating your home with the beauty of the natural world. Live greenery and hand-made wreaths link you to past worlds -- and the world right outside your window. Traditions don't reside only in the past; they live in the new holiday traditions we all partake in each year.

 

Christmas trees

 

Christmastree.detail

  • The concept of the Christmas tree goes back centuries and is probably attributable to pre-Christian tree worship. As a god or a symbol of life, coniferous trees made a convincing symbol; they were big and ever-green (even in the face of the death of winter).
  • The ancient Romans used fir and spruce trees in their early pagan rituals. In the mid-December celebration of Saturnalia, they decorated trees with lit candles, then paraded around with them to celebrate the return of the sun in the spring.
  • Even in equatorial climates, tree greenery was brought indoors; Ancient Egyptians decorated with date palms for the winter solstice to symbolize life over death. Fir trees festooned with decorations are also mentioned in 8th century German texts.
  • Some stories attribute the custom of cutting down a coniferous tree and erecting it indoors to Martin Luther who reportedly decorated a freshly-cut tree with candles to emulate the starry skies on the night of Christ's birth. The first official Christmas tree was erected in Strassburg in 1604.
  • From Europe, the Christmas tree tradition spread to England and later to the American colonies. The Christmas tree was nationally recognized in 1856 when President Franklin Pierce, a native of New Hampshire, decked the halls of the White House with the first Christmas tree.

 

 

Boughs of holly

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  • Holly was a symbol for man's reproductive urges and in English carols, holly represented man and ivy represented woman. Holly also held special religious significance because it was thought that the Cross was made of holly wood; the prickly leaves were the Crown of Thorns and the red berries were stained by the blood of Jesus.
  • Ivy, known as a woman's plant, is the symbol of affection (for its clinging growth habit). Its name comes from Greek mythology. Ivy was a young girl who died and Dionysius, the god of wine, named the plant in her memory. From this association, it was said that ivy prevents drunkenness. In the Church, ivy represents the soul of mankind--ever green and immortal. And for the romantics among us, mistletoe plays an important role in holiday decorating. Mistletoe, the sacred plant of the Celtic Druids, is also found in a Norse legend as the symbol of love between friends (hence the kissing underneath part).

 

 

Evergreen

Wreath3.detail

  • Western cedar garlands can be used indoors and out, creating a festive backdrop for antique ornaments or twinkling lights.
  • Indoors, a cedar garland will maintain its color and scent throughout the holiday season. Outdoors, they will last even longer, providing a glimpse of green through the winter months. Who can argue with tradition?
  • Fir is one of the classic holiday greens because it has good needle retention and a strong, green fragrance (almost synonymous with the holidays). Wreaths are the perfect decoration for doors (both in-doors and out-doors), gates, garages (we've even seen wreaths on the front grills of cars).
  • For a green that will last beyond the holidays, try a eucalyptus wreath composed of robust circle of fragrant eucalyptus branches.


Culinary

Culinarywreath.detail

  • Festive culinary wreaths and swags capture the garden's bounty and look right at home amid the holiday decorations.
  • If you are trying to spice up your kitchen for the holidays, try a culinary herb wreath or a wreath made entirely out of garlic!

 

 

Tags

Christmas Trees, garlands, wreaths, holiday decorating, history of the christmas tree

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