International tree dressing day is one that is enjoyed in many parts of the world. A day both children and adults eagerly anticipate. It signifies the beginning of advent, which many people now just call Christmas. But what is the tradition behind the tree, which type is best and the biggest question of all, how should we decorate it?
International Tree Dressing Day was initiated in 1993 by the charity ‘Common Ground’. This UK based charity is focused on community conservation and environmental education. However, the ever green fir tree’s symbolism goes much further back than that. Plants and trees that kept their green leaves or pines all year round held a type of symbolism. In some countries, it was believed that the trees would keep away evil ghosts and spirits. In the Northern Hemisphere, the green trees were seen as a reminder that summer would come again. For this reason, the Romans decorated their homes with large evergreen branches.
When did the Christmas tree come into the home?
It was the Germans who bought the entire tree into their homes in the 16th century and started decorating them with candles. But this tradition did not make its way into other countries at the time, with Oliver Cromwell stating that it was a pagan tradition. It was not until a drawing of Queen Victoria standing around a Christmas tree was published in 1846 that the idea of a Christmas tree being kept inside became popular in the UK and America.
Outside of the home, communities displayed large trees for the public to enjoy. The Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree started in the Great Depression in 1931 and Leicester Square in London yearly displays a tree donated by Oslo in gratitude for the help the UK gave Norway during the second world war.
The Christmas tree has a wonderful history and now has its own day – International tree dressing day. It’s a great way to mark the start of the festive season and to gather the family together. But the question remains – which tree do you buy?
How to buy a real Christmas tree
Now we know the history of the Christmas tree, have you ever wondered which type to buy? Some people just choose by height and price. But now with so much information available to us, we can distinct between the different varieties of tree and what they offer.
The choice is wide. There is the Fraser Fir, which is probably the most popular choice with its silvery green needles that are not too sharp. The Noble Fir is often the tallest available and the Colorado Spruce has strong branches capable of holding heavy decorations. If you would like to spend some time deciding which tree to buy, look here for your research.
Christmas trees for allergies
Luckily, if you are allergic to pine, a fake Christmas tree is not your only option. Whilst there are some amazing artificial Christmas trees, sometimes we just want a real one. Don’t let your allergy hold you back, there are options available to you.
If it is the pine that is producing your allergy, then go for a spruce, fir or cypress tree. Give your local Christmas tree farm a call in advance to see what they have in stock and get one reserved for a family member to pick up. You don’t want to be sneezing all Christmas so make sure this chore is planned in advance.
If you do go for the artificial option, make sure both the tree and the decorations are wiped before use. Having been packed away for almost a year, they are likely to be dusty and can trigger that pesky allergy.
How do you decorate a Christmas tree?
On International tree dressing day, not only do we buy the tree but we also decorate it. Every household has their own tradition over the years but sometimes its nice to mix things up. Whether your tree is real, artificial, small, big, green or silver, it still needs decorating. This year, lets not just wrap tinsel and sparkly baubles around it until its groaning. Instead, lets be a little more intentional with our tree decorations.
Which Christmas tree decorations
Tinsel made of thin strands of beaten silver was a tradition started by the Germans. Rich Germans, I’m thinking! When plastic was invented, this was substituted as a cheaper alternative. Lightbulbs as decorations began at the beginning of the 20th century and could be rented instead of bought but this was also fairly costly. This was the same time that artificial trees became popular.
Most people have a dusty box with a selection of tree decorations built up over the years. If you decide this year to replace them with new ones, there are many styles to choose from. Will you go for Sleek, chic, minimalist, colorful, or a full on groaning and covered Christmas tree. Whatever your preference, there is a selection of decorations for you.
For that extra special, buy once a year decoration you could head to Fortnum and Mason in central London. A department store worth visiting even with no intention to buy. Its decorations are unique and meant to provide memories along with the somewhat hefty price tag! If you are shopping online, the reliable Amazon will not fail for variety and quick delivery. Products vary from the staple baubles and tinsel to decorations specifically for this year. To view a selection of types, prices and shops to visit, browse here.
Evolution of the modern day Christmas tree
Over time, we have seen the evolution of the modern Christmas tree, which is heavily decorated without much of a nod to religion. For most of us, decorating it is a ritual that dates back to our childhood and this time of year would just not be the same without it. Without a tree, we cannot have the symbolic International tree dressing day ceremony. Where would we put the presents? Without a tree, where would the annual family photo be taken? The living lights would have to stay on when dusk approaches, rather than just turning on the glittering and, coloured lights that adorn our trees. Safe to say, having a tree in our house at Christmas is as much a part of Christmas as is a roast dinner, presents or the festive sweater.
Many ways to decorate a Christmas tree
How, when and who decorates your tree? Do you do it by yourself? Is it you and your partner? Or do you have children that help or an extended or blended family? Whatever your situation, this tradition can be a blessing and give us many fond memories. Whatever your situation, decorate your tree with love. This is a moment to appreciate.
How to decorate your tree like a professional
Now we come to the order of decorations that will adorn your tree. Firstly, you need to design your theme. This will be especially relevant if you are buying a number of new decorations this year. Next, ‘fluff’ up those branches. This is definitely one for me – my artificial tree is hidden in its box all year and once taken out, the branches definitely groan in protest at having to relinquish the shape they have been squashed into. Once suitably ‘fluffed’, take out the lights. Plug them in, then start wrapping from the base of the tree all the way up, then down again making sure some lights are on top of the branch and some underneath.
Lastly comes the fun part. Hang larger baubles near the middle of the tree and smaller ones on the ends of the branches. Delicate ones should be placed near the top then carefully hang the special ones. These hold more memories and should be visible to yourself and a visitor.
Mostly – please have fun!
International tree dressing day is the start of the Christmas season and is a fun activity that can be enjoyed by both children and adults together. Switch off your computer, put down your phone and join in. Create a Christmas with the family memory that will last forever. In my family, once work is finished, all gadgets will be turned off and it will be ‘our’ time. We put the tree together, and fluff the branches. Then we place the lights and the decorations. All to the sound of Christmas carols and us talking. This is one of my favorite rituals at this cold time of year and something that binds us together.
If you have enjoyed reading this and are in the Christmas spirit, why not find some inventive ways to enjoy Christmas with children? With fantastic tips, you will have your Christmas tree decorated and family entertained all in one sitting.