Yesterday was a National Tree Dressing day and I celebrated it with lighting up our village Christmas Tree with my neighbours. The tradition of taking a Spruce into our homes started in 1846 when Queen Victoria encouraged her beloved Albert to indulge in his German tradition of doing so. Before that, homes were adorned with evergreens on the Winter solstice (21st December) to represent ever lasting life and the end of the long dark nights of winter.
We invoke the power of trees every time we say ‘touch wood’ hoping to ward off bad luck. Without trees to process the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into oxygen, we would not be able to breathe. Trees provide shelter, homes for wildlife, beauty and protection for the soil. Wood is used for fuel, furniture, art-work, paper, books, symbolism, construction and medicine. Trees live far longer than humans. Some are poisonous; the Yew, Holly berries, and Laburnum seeds, and others provide medicine. For example, the Hawthorn, used for the heart, white willow – source of salicylic acid now synthesized as aspirin, lime or linden tree – used with high blood pressure and arterial complaints, and elder trees – known as nature’s medicine chest, especially effective against colds and flu and other respiratory conditions, all have amazing medicinal chemical properties and are regularly used by herbalists, and the Eucalyptus, which I am sure needs no explanation. And, we mustn’t forget the benefit of a walk in the woods, and the odd tree hug. So, think of our trees. When they suffer, so do we. As the rain forest is annihilated we loose our oxygen, the Orangutan and many other species lose their habitat.