Thursday, 05 December 2019 13:40
By Peter Bowden | Home & Garden

Winter and its attendant holidays have snuck up on us again and soon many of us will find ourselves dragging an evergreen tree into the house and covering it with lights and decorations.Many of us can still remember when the Christmas tree wasn’t put up until Christmas Eve.  This tradition likely had its roots in the English tradition of bringing home the Yule log on Christmas Eve.The Yule log was a large stump, often including the roots, and was decorated with mistletoe, holly and other greenery.The log was lighted with a bit of the previous year’s log, thus protecting the house from fire for the upcoming year, and needed to be kept burning for at least twelve hours to ensure continued good fortune.

The evergreen tree as the tree of choice for solstice celebrating appears to have its origins in the Christianizing of the Germanic tribes of Eastern Europe.Some of the earliest accounts tell of St. Boniface dedicating the fir tree to the Christ Child with the oath “You are the light of the world, a tree ever green” to counter the sacred oak of Odin in the eighth century.

Other accounts credit Martin Luther as the first to bring home a cut evergreen tree and decorate it with candles that symbolize the stars in the sky over Bethlehem the night Christ was born. 

Hundreds of years passed until the tradition of decorating evergreen trees at Christmas became common.It wasn’t until 1841 when King Albert displayed a decorated evergreen tree in his palace that the tradition took hold in English speaking countries.

Whatever the origins of the practice, I love the smell of a fresh Fir when I bring it inside.The trick is to keep the tree hydrated so the needles stay on and the tree stay fresh and fragrant.The first step is to get a fresh tree.When you’re out in the tree lot picking out your tree, bend the little branch tips to make sure they are supple, not brittle. 

Next, make sure to make a fresh cut on the base of the tree right before you bring it inside.The reason this is so important is because the tree has sucked air into the bottom-most cells of the trunk.Even if the tree is placed in water, it can’t absorb it because the first cells at the base are clogged with air.  A fresh cut exposes fresh cells that can absorb water and send it along to the cells above right out to the branches and needles.Most tree lots will offer to make this fresh cut for you.This is fine if you’re going to rush home and get the tree into water within an hour.If it will be longer than that, you might as well wait and make your own fresh cut on the tree at home. 

Make sure that your tree stand is clean before you put your tree into it.If your tree stand is like mine, it spends most of its time in the shed gathering dust.If you don’t clean this dust out, it will mix with the water the tree is absorbing and clog up those all important cells that you just exposed at the base of the trunk when you made your fresh cut.When you place the tree into the stand, fill the stand up with very hot water.Hot water is absorbed more quickly than cold water so the tree will re-hydrate as quickly as possible.  You don’t need to use hot water every time you add water to the stand; just the first time.Make sure that the tree stand always has water in it.If you let it run dry, the tree will suck air into the bottom cells again and it won’t be able to absorb water until another fresh cut is made.Remember:Fresh Tree, Fresh Cut and Fresh Water. 

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