Born Anew

A little history of Christmas trees

history of christmas trees

You will never believe where I found the above quote on the history of Christmas trees — it was actually on the neck label of my favorite winter beer, Anchor Christmas Ale. I discovered their beer years ago when we first moved to SF, and it’s been a holiday tradition ever since (I also love that each year, a new tree is hand drawn by the same artist for the beer labels).

In any case, I thought these words about the significance of evergreen trees this time of year was really beautiful. It prompted me to look into when and where evergreens came into decorative use around the holidays, and unsurprisingly, the history is really interesting! From ancient Egyptians, to Romans, and the Druids, many, many ancient cultures used evergreens to symbolize life and the promise of longer, sunnier days ahead, which would yield new crops and of course, warmth.

From History:

Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return.

Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs. In Northern Europe the mysterious Druids, the priests of the ancient Celts, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as a symbol of everlasting life.

Evergreens cemented their place as Christmas relics in Germany during the 1500s. It would take another 300 or so years for the practice to truly catch on here in America! And of course, it was a royal that made them truly fashionable: with Queen Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert (who was German), the family was depicted around a tree at Christmas time, and the practice became popular amongst wealthy families. From Wikipedia:

A boost to the trend was given in 1848 when The Illustrated London News, in a report picked up by other papers, described the trees in Windsor Castle in detail and showed the main tree, surrounded by the royal family, on its cover. In fewer than ten years their use in better-off homes was widespread. [A woodcut of the illustration] was copied in the United States at Christmas [in] 1850, in Godey’s Lady’s Book. Godey’s copied it exactly, except for the removal of the Queen’s tiara and Prince Albert’s moustache, to remake the engraving into an American scene. The republished Godey’s image became the first widely circulated picture of a decorated evergreen Christmas tree in America.

Interesting, no? Anyway, I thought I’d share a little bit about what I’d found — some good small talk trivia for your holiday celebrations over the next few days! If you want a great overview article, this one from History is great; if you want even more in depth history, the Wikipedia article on Christmas trees is very extensive. Enjoy!

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Image: photo by Liz Nelson, used under Creative Commons CC by 2.0, with text graphics added by Victoria McGinley

This month's quote: "Trust the timing of your life."

Week/End

weekend

FIFTY SHADES OF RESEARCH: Jamie Dornan told Elle UK how he ‘researched’ for his role as Christian Grey. I’m so torn on this movie, y’all. Like, I’ll definitely see it…but part of me thinks seeing it in a theatre would be très awkward. Just me?

GRAMMAR, CELEBRITIES, AND A CHOICE: This fun piece on the Oxford comma made me smile, especially with all the embedded celebrity tweets. I’m one of those terrible writers who isn’t consistent enough when using the Oxford comma. Do you have a stance on this pressing issue?

THE HEADSTAND: I love, love, loved this essay from Hallie. On headstands, mind over matter, and so much more. So worth the read as we head into the weekend.

WELL, THAT’S NO SURPRISE: I thought I would never be more glad to see a New Year’s Eve than I was on December 31, 2013. I was wrong: I really can’t wait for 2015. This year kind of was a downer, and the top Google searches of the year definitely prove it (also: Flappy birds!!!).

STEP BACK AND ASSESS: Over on The Well, as we wind down the month and focus on reflecting, I put together a post on taking a step back and assessing goals you set for yourself this year. And note, this is true whether you blog or not. I plan on spending some time on this after Christmas and before the new year…just sitting with thoughts and jotting down some ideas and reflections. It always refreshes me for the new year ahead!

TALKING WHILE FEMALE: In doing lots of post-Serial finale reading, I stumbled upon this YouTube video NPR put out in October. It’s all about how female voices are interpreted, and the potential biological responses people have to different voices. A short, interesting thing to watch.

AND SPEAKING OF SERIAL: If you listened, odds are, you want to talk about. So let’s do it: did you listen to the whole series yet? What do you think? Where do you come down after hearing the full season? Any theories? Did you like the finale? I’m firmly in the camp of should never have been convicted.

THE WHOLE INTERVIEW MESS: And yeah, about the whole The Interview mess. Crazy, no? I thought this op-ed on how it might end a certain type of satire was a good read.

FOR THE EGGNOG HATER: I must confess, I really hate eggnog (or any type of creamy beverage…barf). Jacquelyn’s eggnog donuts though — these, I could get behind.

GIVE ME ALL THE SWEATERS: Everlane just released a new collection of chunky wool sweaters, and if their sleeveless turtleneck wool sweaters are any indication, these will be good. Yeah, that sleeveless number? I’ve worn it a lottttt since getting it — trust me, it’s amazing. Even Joe complimented me on it! (PS, New Yorkers and SFers — did you know Everlane now has a same day delivery program? This is dangerous.).

Oy, what a news week, amiright? The Interview, Cuba, Pakistan, the end of Serial…I felt like I had loads of things to read and think about this week. Also true of life in general — after getting back from Texas on Tuesday, it was a race to the finish today to catch up on work. Luckily, this time of year isn’t as crazy as it could be (and people are more forgiving) since the holidays are just around the corner. Speaking of which, anyone doing anything fun for Christmas, Hannukah, et al? Joe and I are staying local, hoping for a little snow on Christmas Day, and making a 6+ hour bolognese again (we’ve really taken this whole “Christmas fettucine” thing to heart). One other fun thing to report from this week: we took Lucy on her first walk outside since her surgery! She’s doing really well, and slowly regaining strength. Her gait is a little funny right now, and if she goes too fast, she often stumbles, but she was SO excited to get outside and sniff, and seems confused (and a little disappointed) when we bring her back after a quick trip around the block. I’ve never been happier to go on a “pack walk” with my girl.

Wishing everyone a fabulous weekend ahead!

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Image via: my Instagram

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5 Ikea Hacks I Want to Try

You know, whenever I have a garage and the space

ikea hacks i could actually make

Unsurprising confession: I dream about our future house. You know, the same one you probably dream about — the forever house, the one you end up staying in for at least 20, 30 years and can really put your stamp on. I’m always bookmarking ideas for that house, Ikea hacks definitely included. Recently I got inspired (and excited!) by a bunch of different projects I discovered, which I thought I’d share with you for your dream house (or now-house) file. I mean, for one thing, I think these are five Ikea hacks I could actually make! Yes, you’ll need some power tools and paint for a few of them, and having a garage probably wouldn’t hurt, but with the right supplies, all of these seem totally doable.

Have you ever attempted any awesome Ikea hack projects like this? Another unsurprising confession: the biggest one I’ve attempted was about 5 years ago, when I tried adding knobs I bought from Anthropologie to a MALM dresser. I didn’t have the right tools at the time, and the result was…interesting. Never underestimate the power of a really good drill (and drill bits too, people).

FIVE IKEA HACKS TO BOOKMARK

Marble and Copper Side Table (uses Ikea PS 2012 table)
Dipped Entry Table (used Ikea SVALBO table, which is discontinued; author recommended this table, but you could use any wood table to achieve the same look!)
Upholstered Bench (uses VITTSJÖ TV unit)
Magazine Organizers (uses Ikea KASSET files)
Rolling Bar Cart (uses Ikea VITTSJÖ laptop table)

In this post:

Images and Project Authors: Side Table, Style Me Pretty Living; Dipped Entry Table, The Sweet Beast; Upholstered Bench, Dwellings by Devore; Magazine Files, Homey Oh My; Rolling Bar Cart, Style Me Pretty Living