What is it?
On 1st December it is Tree Dressing Day. This is a national celebration of trees and their immeasurable power.
Obviously December is associated with decorating and bejewelling Christmas trees in the front room. This festival, however, specifically focuses on living trees and the fact that they are vital to life on earth.
How Did it Come About?
The idea began in 1990 when a group called Common Ground decorated trees in Central London with numbers. The significance of the decoration was that they were trying to express that every tree counts.
It has now become a tradition that, each year, people decorate trees in their towns, parks and local neighbourhoods to draw attention to and celebrate trees and therefore begin to value and care more for them.
So how exactly do people dress trees?
The idea of dressing living trees is one that has existed in cultures throughout the world. In Celtic tradition, they tied cloth dipped in water from a holy well to a tree for luck and good wishes. This is a similar tradition to that in Japan, where they decorate trees with strips of white paper, or tanzaku, bearing wishes and poems.
A trend which has recently come about is that of ‘yarn bombing’ where people decorate trees with bright fabrics and yarns. This echoes the Buddhist tradition of tying ribbons around the trunk of the Bodhi tree in homage to Buddha. Similarly, during the annual Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan, coloured strings are tied onto trees and plants to call upon the power of nature to protect loved ones.
In Hong Kong two banyan trees are visited during the Lunar New Year, and burnt joss sticks attached to a wish and an orange are thrown up in to the trees believing that if the paper successfully hangs onto a branch, the wish will come true. In Glasgow there are a number of trees have been planted onto which people can tie white labels which feature their wishes.
So this year, don’t limit your tree decorating skills to your front room. Why not grab a munchable and head out into your town with friends and neighbours to celebrate your relationship with trees?