Posts Tagged ‘Christmas trees’

Why do we have a tree indoors at Christmas time? by Caroline Bennett, Education Officer

Friday, December 9th, 2011

As part of Westonbirt’s programme of family activities this winter, Westonbirt’s education team have created a trail that explores winter traditions from around the world. Caroline Bennett, Westonbirt’s Education Officer, researched the trail and uncovered some fascinating facts about the trees and plants which are central to so many of these traditions and beliefs.

Why do we have a tree indoors at Christmas time?

Paul Groom14

Decorating a tree to celebrate Christmas first started over a thousand years ago. Possibly even as early as 754 AD. Records from 1441 tell us that it was traditional in Estonia for a spruce tree to be decorated and placed in a large shared building. On Christmas eve it was moved into the town square. The towns people would then dance around it and finally set it on fire.

By 1781 people were adding real candles to their Christmas trees and by 1882 the first electric lights were used.

Over the years, artificial trees have been made from dyed feathers, brush bristles, aluminium foil and plastic; but the enduring symbol of an evergreen tree surviving in winter lives on.

Another benefit of real Christmas trees is that they give off a fresh citrus scent.

Useful links
More about family activities at Westonbirt
Become a member of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum
Real Christmas trees from Westonbirt’s Plant Centre

What makes a winter wonderland? by Gina Mills, Marketing Support Officer

Friday, November 18th, 2011

The answer to the question “What makes a winter wonderland?” is in no small part “Volunteers”. Along with our learning and participation staff, they’ve today started the task of transforming Westonbirt’s education centre into a winter wonderland for families visiting the Enchanted Christmas – which starts next Friday, 25 November.

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During the event evenings, our team will be working with children and families to help them create Christmas crafts, draw a picture for Santa, find out about winter customs, and learn about the history of Christmas trees.

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The setting for this will be a wonderful snowy, icicled education centre. Today our band of staff and volunteers were working together to install the textured panels which will eventually become a beautiful icy, glittering wall – a backdrop for the many Christmas trees and displays of greenery. Some of the Christmas trees will be supplied by Westonbirt’s Plant Centre when they get their delivery next week. Most will be be sold to the public, but a few are reserved for this winter wonderland. The greenery has come from the arboretum, the varied colours of our evergreens making a vibrant display.

Once the textured panels are in place a local specialist company, well known for creating festive scenes for Hollywood, will come in to make the finishing touches and flourishes which we hope will make this a magical space in the weeks running up to Christmas. This will all be supported by the wonderful creative lighting design that Westonbirt is so well known for at this time of year.

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At the same time as all of this activity, other volunteers have been working on the craft activities that will be on offer during an Enchanted Christmas, creating examples to inspire you to make your own creations and preparing the raw materials for use.

The Enchanted Christmas is open to visitors every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening from 25 November to 18 December. Find out more and buy tickets on the Enchanted Christmas pages.

Useful links
Enchanted Christmas tickets and info
Become a member of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum