I love Christmas…I get all excited about the decorations, the snow and time to relax and enjoy the season with family and friends (of course, a white Christmas with lights glistening against the snow makes for a perfect combination!!!). What’s not to love about the twinkle lights that deck the halls!!! I know, Christmas can also be such a stressful time for families. Old tensions come out, all the food and costs, and at times, sense of obligation….but that is not what it is supposed to be about. For that reason, I love the lead up to Christmas as much as, if not more than the actual day! Doesn’t the sparkle just put a smile on your face?
Last year, I was mesmerized by what I can only describe as Christmas gone wild. It was my first time soaking up the Christmas markets in Prague, and I was in love! The Christmas carols under Charles Bridge and savouring the flavours of all the street food and mulled wine….my head spins just thinking about it! But alas, I can not be away every Christmas…my family would certainly have something to say about that!
Besides jolly old Saint Nic, the Christmas tree has been a symbol of Christmas for eons. Symbolizing eternal life, wreaths and garlands of evergreen boughs, and evergreen trees, have been used for centuries, warding off evil spirits and ghosts. The Egyptians saw the evergreen as a symbol of the triumph of life over death. The custom of decorating Christmas trees followed, with early evidence of decorated trees as early as 1441. The earliest trees were decorated with apples, nuts, dates etc…where children would collect the goodies on Christmas day. According to wikipedia, the Christmas tree tradition was introduced to Canada in the winter of 1781 in Quebec. Candle light was quick to follow. I have never actually seen a tree decorated with real candles, but love the soft glow of twinkle lights reflecting off the decorations that dress the modern day tree.
It has become common practice to put decorated Christmas trees outdoors since the early 20th century. People flock to see the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree in New York City every year. Festivals around Christmas trees have become popular in celebrating the holidays and commemorating support from times past (Norway presents a tree to the people of London – a symbol of appreciation for the support the Norwegians received during the second world war. Halifax, Nova Scotia, donates a tree to Boston every year in appreciation of the assistance received after the ammunition ship explosion that decimated Halifax in 1917).
In Ottawa, we have used the symbol of the Christmas tree as a fundraiser…and who better to be the benefactor than the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, aka CHEO! Something about Christmas decorations just gets me excited. Brings out the inner child in me and I love to check out downtown Ottawa for the lights spread all over the nation’s capital. High on the list are the 30 trees that deck the halls of the historic Chateau Laurier, which just happens to be celebrating it’s 100th year! The trees are beautifully decorated by local corporations and set out on display, with proceeds going to support CHEO.
The Trees of Hope are in their 15th year at the Chateau. What a perfect surrounding to get into the Christmas spirit….the lights twinkling and such a festive feel…stop for hot chocolate after the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, and enjoy the Christmas spirit in amongst the festive trees. Looking at the trees is free, although you are welcome to vote for your favourite tree and make a donation to CHEO.
Merry Christmas and I would like to wish you a happy and healthy New Years. May all your travels be safe and your adventures exciting!
- Stay at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier and see the trees for yourself. The Trees of Hope Christmas Package runs until January 4th, 2013.
- For another winter wonderland just outside Ottawa, check out the Chateau Montebello: Hotel Review. Every year, they have the most spectacular Christmas tree!
- The History of Christmas Trees