From its Puritan roots to complaints of rampant commercialism, Christmas around the world is been filled with traditions, old and new. Some date back to 16th-century Germany or even ancient Greek times, while others have caught on only in modern times.
And, among them, Christmas trees are one of the most popular, now all over the world.
Their tradition is long and rich, and has resulted in some modern trees that run the gamut from breathtakingly beautiful, encapsulating everything that Christmas stands for, to something simply weird.
Thus, If you need a little help to get into the holiday spirit this year, get yourself a winter drink with some holiday treats and a tour of the world’s best or most unusual Christmas trees. These towering pines (or sand or bottle piles, in some cases) are decked to the nines and shine brightly for holiday season, from Florida, Brazil, Mexico all the way to Lithuania.
South Dakota’s state capitol is more than a building where laws are made.
It is a beautiful place any time of year but, if you step inside the door in November and December, you’ll be greeted by the refreshing scent of mountain pine, because dozens of festive trees bring holiday spirit to seat of government’s historic halls.
There a soft glow radiates through the halls, carolers and musicians fill the air with holiday music and, if you visit it on the right day, you might also get a slice of pie.
Christmas at the Capitol is one of South Dakota’s unique holiday traditions, and It began with just 12 trees in 1981.
Today nearly 100 finely decorated trees fill the capitol rotunda and three floors of historic hallways, and the centerpiece is South Dakota’s official Christmas tree, often a stately spruce carefully chosen and plucked from the Black Hills.
The annual event begins with a lighting ceremony on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and the capitol remains open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily through the day after Christmas.
Special events through the holiday season include story time for children and Pie Day, traditionally on the second Saturday of December.
Cities, businesses, nonprofit groups and other civic organizations apply throughout the year for a tree and, If selected, they spend the weekend before Thanksgiving busily stringing lights and tinsel and hanging handcrafted ornaments.
Among the most treasured pieces are a set of hand-painted porcelain ornaments from the state china painters organization and a wooden nativity, believed to be nearly 125 years old, that the local Knights of Columbus sets up on the second floor.
Also Pierre’s three floral shops each decorate a 4-meters tree every year, while Larry and Hazel Melvin have been decorating a tree since 1989, the year they opened Melvin’s Flower Shop, and they begin planning their tree as soon as the year’s theme is announced.
One year the theme was based on “The 12 Days of Christmas,” so the Melvins decorated a tree with large artificial pears and partridges while another memorable theme was “Do You See What I See?”m and they did different elves on ladders, others into the tree, and others were peeking through the branches.
In any case, thousands of visitors come by car and busload from every corner of the state to see the capitol filled with holiday splendor.
And, interestingly, just two weeks after the decorations are shelved, lawmakers return and rancorous political battles are again waged on the statehouse floors.
That’s all the more reason to visit the capitol this winter, when it’s transformed into a peaceful, serene winter wonderland!
Images from web – Google Research