Ever wondered where this negative superstition of keeping Christmas decorations up after Twelfth Night came from? Well long ago people believed that tree-spirits lived in the greenery (holly, Ivy etc) that they decorated their houses with. The greenery was brought into the house to provide a safe haven for the tree-spirits during the harsh midwinter days. Once this period was over it was necessary to return the greenery back outside to release the tree-spirits into the countryside once again. Failure to do this would mean that vegetation would not grow again and spring would not return thus leading to an agricultural disaster! It was also thought that, if you left the greenery in the house, the tree-spirits would cause mischief until they were released. Even today, with most decorations being made of foil or paper, people still feel uneasy about leaving them up after Twelfth Night.
So, what to do when that dreaded time comes to undress and dispose of the tree?
Recycle, recycle, recycle – that’s what I say!
It is estimated that as little as 10% of the 6-8million Christmas trees bought annually are recycled for composting and wood chipping. Most are simply thrown away. That majority which ends up in landfill represents a huge wasted opportunity to create biomass that could provide nutrients for depleted soil. So make sure you contact your local authority for details of their recycling scheme. Some even offer to collect direct from your home or have public collection points set up in the local community.
However, if you are feeling slightly more creative and keen to give back to the environment with a more hand on approach then here are a few other options for how to make use of your tree:
In the garden…
• Some open rooted trees can be replanted so animals and birds can make use of them throughout the year, plus you will save money by being able to use it again.
• If not replanted, the trunk and branches can be used as a brush pile. Simply lay them out in the garden and watch the birds come.
• If you decide to put the Christmas tree out for the birds, you may want to decorate it with treats such as hanging fruit slices, and stale bread. You can coat pine cones in peanut butter and bird seed, and hang them from the tree, or smear the branches with suet.
• Following this line of thought, you could even donate it to a local zoo for the animals to enjoy – elephants love to eat fir trees
• The pine needles can be used out in the garden as mulch for those plants that prefer acidic soil, such as hollies, rhododendrons and camellias. Spread the needles on the soil near the plants to help them grow.
• You can then turn the trunk of the fir tree into woodchips, which can be used as mulch in the garden. The woodchips help keep the moisture in the soil, and can reduce the amount of weeding that needs to be done.
• Large branches of your fir tree can be used to protect plants in the winter.
Or if you’re feeling a little more creative in the home…
• Why not make the most of those lovely smelling pine needles by creating fresh pine fragrance pouches? These can be put in clothes drawers or used to scent the room – simply separate the needles, then dry and crumble them. Mix them with cinnamon and put into small cloth bags.
• You could also use the pine needles to make a fragrant pin cushion – stuff a small cloth bag full with crushed pine needles and sew it closed.
• The fir tree can be used as a coat stand or towel rack, either with the tree stand as a base, or by making your own. The branches can be stripped down to 3-5 inches, and then painted or varnished to your taste.
See, a solution for everyone – so there really is no excuse not to recycle your Christmas Tree!
For further advice, drop us a line on 01454 457 300.