Christmas is such a wonderful holiday and holds so many diverse traditions around the world. There are over 160 countries that celebrate Christmas or Family Day as Angola and Uruguay refer to it. The whole Santa scenario was popularized in the 19th century with the 1823 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” along with the caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast.
It’s true. St. Nick did exist and his name was Saint Nicholas of Myra. He was a 4th century Greek bishop in now present day Turkey and was famous for his generous gifts to the poor. Still today in many parts of Europe, they celebrate St. Nicholas’ Day on December 6th where the children receive their presents on this day. But what tends to get over-looked, taken for granted or under-appreciated is all the beautiful plant life that makes up our Christmas holiday.
There are Pointsettias of course with their reds, whites and pinks to brighten our environments. Garlands, made of most anything, but traditionally branches of pines and their cones, send smells of fresh forests to greet you at a front door or tempt you into a holiday reverie when passing by.
There is the Christmas cactus, blooms of magenta or bright orange who open up their brilliance to all and embrace the colder climates; unlike us that go scouring into the closets for our boots and coats. But best of all is the noble Christmas tree that reaches high above everyone, high enough to touch a star.
We are connected to the world all around us, especially through our green friends. Firs and pines delight us throughout this special season. Their freshness entice us to curl up beside a warm fire, hot toddy in hand and gather the family around for another holiday cheer. Young and older shall always cherish the Christmas tree, it’s branches filled with needles and sweet pine scent that send memories to last a lifetime.