Winter Solstice – Green Your Trees

Check out the discussion on Grist on what is more sustainable: fake or live trees : Ask Umbra: Which Christmas tree is the greenest? | Grist.

It’s a question that is debated a lot every holiday season.  If you celebrate the Winter Solstice, it has been an ancient tradition for families to bring evergreens inside.  Think of it as bestowing the properties of evergreen trees into your home.

Umbra of Grist argues that live trees are sustainable – but only if they are grown organically or wild.  As I always argue, modern Druids should be stewards of the land.  Choose the greener option because it shows respect for the trees.  As a spiritual person who works with trees, do you really want to to bring a dying tree nursed on chemicals into your home?  I can imagine those spirits feeling very jaded at their treatment.

Umbra suggests several alternatives, one of which is what hubby and I have decided to do this year: use a potted tree.

My father was a volunteer fireman for several years.  The biggest cause of house fires in December was always decor – usually involving the lights on a live tree.  They dry out if poorly tended and all it takes is just the right amount of heat…  Growing up and hearing these stories, we eventually adopted a reusable tree.  It seemed like a great idea at the time.  Ever since I was five or six, that is what we have had.  When I was older and got a tree of my own, I found myself confronted on blogs and by other people with environmental concerns over whether or not that was a good idea.

Paired with my father’s concerns, I found that I am an animist.  The idea of chopping a whole tree down for a holiday really bothered me, especially when so many ended up at the curb…  There was something very sad about it.  Many will be recycled into mulch, which is a good thing…  But I feel that a Druid should be very respectful about it.  Treat your trees like guests of honor and lovingly tend them with water and offerings. (They could be comparable to the human sacrifices of the ancients Celts as evidence shows they were treated very well, perhaps even kingly figures, before their demise).

At Muin Mound Grove, their tree comes from Skip’s forest.  It is taken with respect and the very practical need to thin the forest.  The tree follows us through the cycle of the year.  It adorns the top of our Maypole, spreading fertility into the land throughout the green half of the year.  On Samhain, we chop the Maypole and the Solstice tree up and put it into the fire.  It’s a beautiful tradition that connects us to the land and its cycle.

Back to myself.  I don’t want to cut a tree down in my own household – at least right now.  The plan this year is to bring in several of our potted trees and decorate them.  The largest will be placed on a stand with an altar cloth of sorts.  It will become the Solstice altar – full of gifts, Yule goats, etc.  On New Years, as is custom, the trees will go back outside.  It is considered unlucky to keep ever greens in past that point.

And what of my faux tree?  It is getting old but is still functional.  There’s no need to throw it out.  Rather, we are going to donate it.  If you would like to do the same, local schools, churches, and shelters are always looking for them!

I encourage my readers to share their Solstice tree ideas and customs.  Are you using a real or faux tree?  Are you doing something alternative like potting a tree?  Do you use a tree at all?

Published by M. A. Phillips

An author and Druid living in Northern NY.

2 thoughts on “Winter Solstice – Green Your Trees

  1. Mmm…real, dry, christmas trees and those big incandescent bulbs all over…sure they were a fire hazard, but they smelled so good.

    No tree for me though. I was christian for far too long for it to be an unconfused symbol. When I did have one, I used a fake one, and then “donated” it to my ex-wife. 🙂

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