Friday, December 11, 2009

Xmas Plants

Its the eleventh of December today. I thought I would photograph the plants we have, that are used traditionally at this time of the year. The first is a wreath tied onto the front door. Pine cones, Fir tree leaves, and the Poinsettias. Arranged in a circle and attached to the door knocker.
The wreath started life as laurels in the ancient greek games for their victorious athletes. Maybe they kept them and hung them on their front doors...
Later the Germans started to use wreaths with candles to celebrate advent. I just love the colours and xmasy feel, a warm glow for people who visit the house.

The Christmas tree was put up by me and Tom. I find it therapeutic to get the tree out and then decorate it with the tinsel, fairy lights, baubles, and the angelic figure at the top. The flashing lights and glittering colours always cheer me up. It just needs wrapped presents now underneath it to complete the look.
Here in Britain it was Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert who first popularised the Xmas tree. A woodcut in the 1848 London Illustrated showed the first decorated Fir Tree in a front room. This was altered and used in the United States, starting the tradition there too.
Prince Albert remembered his own childhood in Germany, and how excited he and his brother were. Their tree had candles and sweets on it..
In the dark winter months the Fir tree was always green and alive. The deciduous trees are all bare and sleeping. The pagans used to have Fir Trees as symbols of hope and rebirth, before the Christian faith took hold.
The shops today were selling little sprayed Fir Trees, Xmas Cactuses, Kalancoe's in baskets held by Teddy bears in Santa Hats, and the famous Poinsettias.
Its funny how plants become entrenched in Christmas traditions, and how year after year we return to them. The Xmas Tree and Xmas wreath have become symbolic of the time of year.

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