Since I was a child, one of my favorite holiday activities has been to decorate the Christmas Tree. The days leading up to Christmas, I would take my sleeping bag and curl up in front of its protective branches, completely mesmerized by the twinkling lights and shiny ornaments until I drifted off to sleep. As an adult, I don’t really do this so much, but the aesthetic beauty of Christmas Trees continues to enchant me. For centuries, people have decorated their homes with healthy branches that remained green throughout winter. To celebrate the Winter Solstice, the pagans in early Europe would decorate their homes with boughs of fir, spruce and pine. Druid priests in Celtic England would decorate their houses and temples with evergreen as a symbol of eternal life. (Only branches were used, though, and never the whole tree, as that would have been too destructive for their tastes.) The citizens of ancient Egypt would fill their homes with palm fronds to commemorate resurrection and rebirth. But it was the Greeks and Romans who thought to decorate these branches, adorning them with bits of metal and religious icons.
The Germans were the ones responsible for bringing the whole tree inside the house, using fruit and candles as the main decorations. There were many objections to the use of the Christmas Tree as part of the holiday celebration. Many religious leaders and pious followers felt the symbol of the tree was far too pagan and unholy to use in Christian-based religions. Despite these objections, Queen Victoria and her husband, German born Prince Albert, loved Christmas Trees. They began to gain popularity, and by the late Victorian Era, they could be seen everywhere. The Europeans preferred their trees to be three to four feet tall, whereas Americas liked theirs to reach floor to ceiling.
From a feng shui standpoint, there are many reasons why people are attracted to the beauty of The Christmas Tree. For one, all five of the elements are represented. Wood is represented by the tree itself. Fire is symbolized by the glowing lights. Metal and earth comprise most of the ornaments. As for water, if one’s tree is living, then there is usually a water source at the base. However, if the three is faux, then shades of blue can be symbolic of the water element. Indeed, the use of color can work for all the elements here. Another alluring aspect of the tree is the shape. In feng shui, triangles are representative of fire, which humans are drawn to. Most Christmas trees are triangle in shape. The lights are also another fire aspect of the tree that beguile the beholder. Not to mention the various kind of ornaments that adorn the branches – of which there is there is an endless variety.
Above are some photos of my Christmas Tree this year. I went with a Victorian Peacock theme (I like peacocks). One thing I use in decorating my Christmas Tree every year is fruit. I have a collection of faux red apple ornaments (not pictured), as well as faux pears (which can be seen on the tree). Faux fruit works far better than the real thing, as they tend to be heavy on the branches, and can become rotten, causing all kinds of issues. Other examples of faux fruit I’ve seen have been glass strawberries, wax fruit and berries of all kinds, and red beads (these look like cranberries from a distance) But if you want something edible on the tree, the fastest and easiest thing to add would be candy canes. I do advise keeping them in their wrapping, however, to keep them fresh. And then, there are some trees that are completely edible in of themselves.
Chef, author and spokesperson Jeanne Benedict created this amazing Christmas Tree Crudite for LIVE with Regis and Kelly in 2009. In addition to all of the colorful, edible vegetables, the base is made out of two cabbages. The complete directions on how to make this stunning tree are located here: http://www.jeannebenedict.com/recipes/christmas-tree-crudite/
Taste of Home has a tantalizing tree made from cinnamon buns. I would play with colored frosting and tinted sugars to enhance the display. Direction available here: http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Christmas-Tree-Rolls
Betty Crocker, than name we know and love, has several Christmas Tree inspired treats. My favorite is the Christmas Tree Cake. Although I would tint the batter green. The complete recipe and cutting instructions are located here: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/christmas-tree-cake/6a22dadd-3b92-40b5-a5a9-df209ff3ef68
Ms. Crocker also has a delicious looking Lemon Basil Tree I want to experiment with. Although I’d add a couple of black olives and diced tomatoes for color. Here’s the recipe: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/lemon-basil-tree/5fe297f9-df00-432e-8079-e7a8f1fc8a31
Delish.com and Good Housekeeping have revived a mid-century favorite: The Cookie Jigsaw. Originally published in the December 1965 edition of Good Housekeeping, this nouveau take on the classic sugar cookie has each cookie as a puzzle piece for the celebratory Christmas Tree and a starry night sky. I’d like to try this recipe for Easter as well, perhaps with the image of a giant Easter Egg. The complete recipe is here: http://www.delish.com/recipefinder/cookie-jigsaw-1658
As for the location of the Christmas Tree in the home, there are many options. Each ideal location for the tree is different with each environment. The main tree should be put in the living room or parlor, or a large room where the home’s loved ones and guests can congregate easily. Unless you’re on a higher floor, avoid putting the tree directly in front of a window, as this can sometimes lure thieves to break into the home. The best areas for the tree are the East, Southeast and South. East is the area of each room that symbolizes family. The associated element here is wood, and its associated color green, making it perfect for any plant, especially the Christmas Tree. Southeast, being the area of prosperity and abundance, and south, being the area of fame, are also good options. However, the southwest could also work, being the area symbolic of love, if your tree happens to be predominantly red, pink, or white. As for choosing real or faux trees, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. Real trees offer a stronger wood element to the environment, and give off a purely festive aroma of nature. The water element is also present here to sustain the tree. Faux options, however, last much longer than real trees, and some have bendable branches, creating a perfect display for ornaments. I inherited my family’s old Christmas Tree years ago, which was originally bought back in 1992, and it still looks just as good as when it was first purchased. I also advise that one keeps a close eye on their pets (and the occasional willful child). Sometimes the branches and ornaments prove too much of a temptation to play with.
I realize that these recipes and tips are far too late in the season to be currently applied, but every morsel of information can be put towards next years Christmas celebration. It was my goal to get this article finished weeks ago (and not on Christmas Day), but I got distracted by many a holiday party. I would like to wish everyone reading this a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Festive and Joyous New Year!