What is it about a Christmas Tree? What makes it such a focal point with such a tug on our heartstrings? Throughout the ages the idea of bringing plants indoors has had a strong appeal to us – Just what is it about plants that makes us value their presence in our homes and businesses?
Our attachment to plants is deep-rooted, enduring through hundreds of generations.
From an Irish perspective our reverence of trees can be traced all the way back to our original ancestors. The Celts held a number of trees in awe: Oak (divinity), ash (healing), yew (immortality) and hazel (wisdom) all inspired wonder and even worship. The great, modernising civilisations of ancient Egypt and Rome started bringing Nature into the home as a form of protection, a type of shield against misfortune. It was here that the practice of adorning rooms with palm tree leaves (symbols of long life) started.
The Christmas Tree is a magical evolution of these early rituals. Its origins, too, stretch back thousands of years to pre-Viking Scandinavia. The Winter Solstice was a particularly bleak and threatening time of year for Norse pagans. Hence began their custom of bringing full trees indoors in the expectation that they would infuse homes with wellbeing and provide safekeeping from ill luck.
The decorated Xmas Tree as we know it really became a household essential during the Victorian era. Interestingly, people did not stop there. The Industrial Revolution had uprooted a large rural population that left to seek work in the factories of the cities. These cities were monotone, smoke-belching places, virtually without remnants of the countryside they had replaced. Indoor plants addressed people’s hard-wired need to maintain some form of connection with the natural world. Plants brought colour and life into drab surroundings. They offered a source of escapism, inspired positivity and provided company and comfort.
Working and living conditions have improved immeasurably, yet that innate urge to maintain a connection with Nature hasn’t dimmed. Indoor plants go on exerting a power over people that is by turns calming, energising and inspirational. Year on year, ever more varied species have found their way into the interiors in which we work, shop and play.
Now you can even get plants and trees that have been preserved so they stay truly evergreen. Not just for a few short weeks in December. Those plants are what we like to call Mummie Plants and this is how they can bring a space to life.