Plant of the Month - The Evergreen

The evergreen has leaves in all seasons and has come to represent renewal or self renewal for this reason.The closer we move towards the holidays, the more we notice these magnificent trees, covered in lights, ornaments and holiday treats but the evergreen has represented much more in history, than the marking of the holidays.  

Ancient cultures brought evergreen trees, plants, and leaves into their homes upon the arrival of the winter solstice. Although the practices were different in each culture, the symbolization was always about renewal and joy during the Winter Solstice, which marks the beginning of the decline of winter.  

In ancient Egypt, green date palm leaves were brought into the home around the time of  the Winter Solstice as a symbol of life’s victory over death. Druid priests in Great Britain also used evergreen plants and mistletoe in pagan ceremonies, and the mistletoe plant was the symbol of the birth of a god. Many other cultures in Europe burn Yule logs for good luck, riches and happiness through the winter, a tradition which dates back to ancient pagan rites.  

There are many stories of how the Christmas tree came to be but it most likely was birthed in Germany. In the mid 1500's, Germans began using evergreen trees as a symbol of hope for the coming of spring. This practice is likely to have gradually evolved from pagan rituals of past, and merged with the celebration of Christmas. In 1539, in the Cathedral of Strasbourg, a pine was decorated and used for their Christmas celebration.  

The Christmas tree was introduced separately in different US cities by German immigrants, most likely in the mid 1700's but the trees were mostly housed in churches and schools until the 19th century. The first Christmas tree retail lot was opened in New York in 1851 and the trend took off from there. Today, evergreens can be seen as Christmas trees, all over America and Europe, around December, in every color shape and kind but they all represent the same thing: joy, life and hope.

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