Saturday, 4 December 2010

Fourth Day of Advent

- December 4th -

Today’s Advent blog is a little later than usual, but for a very good reason. You see, today I want to talk briefly about Christmas trees. The reason being that my tree was delivered today and I’ve been spending the most part of today decorating it, as well as putting up the rest of the Christmas decorations around the house.

It’s hard to believe that the tradition of decorating a tree and displaying it in the home as the centre piece of the Christmas dressings isn’t even two hundred years old yet.

Although the custom can be traced back as far as Estonia in the Fifteenth Century, it took a while to catch on in other parts of the world. By the early 1700s it had spread across Central Europe until, by the early Nineteenth Century, had made it as far a field as Russia and Canada.

It’s a well known fact that the Christmas tree really took off with the British public after Queen Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert, but the tradition was actually introduced into Britain nearly half a century earlier by Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen to George III.

When I was a child in the late 70s early 80s I seem to remember that our tree was very much of it’s time. It was quite small, roughly about 3 foot or so, and the branches were made of silver tinsel. We’d sit it on the sideboard where the top of the tree would come to just above our heads. Sounds bad now, I’ll grant you, but I actually used to love that tree as a kid, and the thought of decorating it every Christmas was one of the highlights of the year for me.

As I got older my Mum and Dad bought a bigger one. Still artificial, but this one was six foot tall, and green. It actually looked like a real tree from a distance. This was the mid-to-late 80s, you have to understand, when fake trees that didn’t look like trees at all were out, and fake trees that looked like real trees were in. My Mum would never allow us to have a real tree, would never allow one near the house let alone in it. She hated the thought of the pine needles getting all over the floor. Still does.

Since I’ve been with my fiancée, however, I’ve been introduced to the advantages of having a real tree in the house. They’re so beautiful I’d never go back to fake trees now; not even fake trees that look like real trees from a distance.

A nicely decorated one, with baubles and bows, garlands and lights, look almost Victorian; particularly if you place all your Christmas present around the bottom of the tree, as we do. And you know what, we’ve never had any problems with the pine needles, like my Mum has always feared. As long as you keep the base-stand full of water the pine needles stay where they are.

I’ve told my Mum this, but she still won’t have one in the house. She’s got a fake one that looks real, but it’s only small and sits on the sideboard in the living room. The top of it comes to just above their heads.

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