The origins of our tradition of celebrating Christmas with a beautifully decorated tree go back many centuries. It is seen as a bearer of hope and the lush green of its branches is a symbol of vitality. But why do we like it so much?
A festively illuminated tree awakens childhood memories and allows us to relive our joyful anticipation of Christmas. So every year during the Christmas season we feel the desire to express this cherished tradition.
2020 as the year of change has once again shown how much strength we can draw from our connection with nature. Surrounded by fresh air and landscape, we leave everyday life behind and recharge our batteries. And under a forest's canopy of leaves we feel safe and secure in a very special way.
We can also preserve and continue the Christmas tree tradition in a more modern and sustainable way if we no longer want our tree to be simply disposed of a few days after Christmas every year. These considerations will also awaken in our children a sense of nature and an understanding of the complex relationships within the ecosystem.
There is a wide range of alternatives. And it does not mean having to do without a real Christmas tree. If the tree is dug up with roots, it can be put back into the ground again afterwards. In the past, it was customary to plant the small Christmas trees with roots in your front garden every year. Over time, they became an impressive eye-catcher, but also blocked daylight from coming in through the windows.
Today, tree nurseries, farms and retailers everywhere offer Christmas trees in pots for sale or even for hire. They organise the return and replanting of their trees in nature as an ecologically sound solution. This leaves space and light in the front garden for your favourite plants. Some organisations also offer to plant a new tree to replace the old one. This sends a positive signal.
As with our produce, we can also opt for regionality and sustainability when choosing a Christmas tree. The tree from the farm on the outskirts of town means freshness and the support of a regional enterprise. You will also find more indigenous tree species here.
One tip from NABU is to select trees from so-called special sites. These are, for example, located below power lines, but are part of regional forestry operations. The BIO seal of approval also helps with the decision for more sustainability, because these farms do not use pesticides or growth enhancers.
Which tree you choose is always a matter of personal taste. They shimmer in different shades of colour ranging from dark green to blue to silver. There are differences in the thickness of the branches and the spruce species in particular exude a Christmassy, tart forest scent. Room size and ceiling height of the future location need to be taken into account.
A slender, tall tree can only achieve its full potential in a suitable space, for example in an atrium, a purist loft or an open entrance hall. If there is only limited space available, however, small, bulbous trees provide an attractive solution. If children play under the tree, we recommend a Nordmann fir, which has soft needles that do not prick.
Retailers offer alternatives to living trees in all possible variations from plain to opulent. LED trees or branches for a more modern ambience mean little effort, are reusable and could even serve as a light source all year round.
But maybe this year, when we are all spending more time at home, Advent is a good time to take a breather and get creative. Do things a little differently.
You don't always have to opt for a fir look. If you like the Mediterranean style, you can also cut some wild romantic olive branches, decorate them with candles and create a festive atmosphere. Or you let your children or grandchildren realise their ideas. Gathering branches and leaves with them out in the garden is fun. Decorating the self-made works of art with a Christmassy touch and cleaning up the house together is precious family time that brings joy.
On that note, we wish you a wonderful and contemplative Christmas season with lots of time for each other, even under the given circumstances.