IT'LL GRO W BAC K: Organized trips allow holiday-makers to go out to the woods and find their own Christmas tree.
TALLINN - Many people around the world have various family traditions and many different ways of celebrating the Christmas holidays. But one thing that we all have in common is engaging in the family tradition of hanging from an evergreen brightly colored bulbs, shining lights, glistening beads, and heirloom ornaments. This evergreen is more commonly known as the Christmas tree.
The Christmas tree has gone through a long process of development and is rich with many legends. Some historians trace the lighted Christmas tree to Martin Luther. He attached lighted candles to a small evergreen tree, trying to simulate the reflections of the starlit heaven - the heaven that looked down over Bethlehem on the first Christmas Eve. From 1700, when candles were accepted as part of the decorations, the Christmas tree was well on its way to becoming a tradition in Germany. Then the tradition crossed the Atlantic with the Hessian soldiers. Some other people trace the origin of the Christmas tree to an earlier period. Even before the Christian era, trees and boughs were used for ceremonials. Egyptians, in celebrating the winter solstice - the shortest day of the year - brought green date palms into their homes as a symbol of “life’s triumph over death.”
When the Romans observed the feast of Saturn, part of the ceremony was the raising of an evergreen bough. The early Scandinavians were said to have paid homage to the fir tree. To the Druids, sprigs of evergreen holly in the house meant eternal life; while to the Norsemen, they symbolized the revival of the sun god ‘Balder.’ To those inclined toward superstition, branches of evergreens placed over the door kept out witches, ghosts, evil spirits and the like. This use does not mean that our Christmas tree custom evolved solely from paganism. The Christmas tree is a symbol of a living Christmas spirit and brings into our lives the pleasant aroma of the forest. This year the State Forest Management Centre (RMK) again will organize dozens of organized trips to the state forests so that visitors can choose, on their own, a Christmas tree for their homes. The supervised spruce trips will be organized for private persons and also for businesses, who can combine the trip to the forest with, for instance, their Christmas corporate parties. According to Marge Rammo, Head of the Nature Management Department, it is the Christmas tree that brings a true Christmas feeling into people’s homes.
“We wish that the lovely tradition of families going out into the forest to pick a Christmas tree lasts for a long time in Estonia,” said Rammo. “That is why we invite people to the state forest and offer them the chance to find a suitable Christmas tree, either with the help of RMK specialists or on their own.” The supervised forest trips will be organized in 16 locations across Estonia until the end of December. A short educational program about nature precedes the trips. The supervised spruce trips for private persons will take place on Dec. 18 – 23, and on Dec. 28 – 30. RMK points out that Christmas trees may be cut in state forests only from locations where they have no possibility of growing to maturity, such as the sides of roads and along ditches, from underneath power lines and from forest section lines.
The cutting of spruce trees is forbidden from young growth areas and from cultures where they were planted by humans, or from locations where they have been planted for future purposes. For the trip the visitors are asked to bring their own saw and wear suitable clothing, depending on the weather. RMK does not organize the transport of the trees nor does it sell spruce trees that have been previously cut from nature centers. A spruce-cutting trip takes about two hours.