In December, Christmas falls close in time to the Southern solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and it’s in those chilly northern cultures where the tradition of the Christmas tree first began to form.
Across time, people have used the cycles of the sun and moon to govern the timing of farm seasons and family life. In pagan times, it was common to bring evergreen branches into the home and into places of worship around the time of mid-winter in anticipation of the change of season. The trees that stayed green all year symbolised life and hope, and how life can win over death.
The custom seems to have spread from middle Europe to England and then on to America during the 16th to 18th centuries. Today, in places where Christmas is celebrated, it is common during December to bring a tree, usually a conifer, into the home and to decorate it with trinkets, baubles and strings of tinsel or beads.
In Australia, the tradition of the Christmas tree heralds from the Northern Hemisphere’s customs and rituals to the extent that even in the super-hot December weather, the trees are often decorated with fake snow and icicles to emulate the traditional appearance.
In this day of manufacturing, a larger percentage of people use synthetic Christmas trees that last from year to year and pack down into a storage box between Christmases, but many people still prefer to buy or gather a fresh tree or branch each year.
Suggestions of where to buy your live Christmas tree: