Holiday Blog Post

Happy Holidays!

As the songs go — “It’s the most WONDER-ful time of the year.. (Andy Williams),”  and, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… (Michael Buble)” . In our shared traditions for this special time of year, we both agree! And of course, holiday theme-songs that might be well-suited in particular to our Friends4Trees4Life blog include “Oh Tannenbaum” and Lady Gaga’s “Christmas Tree”.

As we learned for an earlier blog post, December tree-themed festivities, and the use of evergreen trees to symbolize “eternal life” are something shared in history among many societies, tracing back to traditions followed by ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. We learned that Western Germany is credited with the origin of the modern Christmas tree tradition, begun initially as a tradition of setting up a “paradise tree” adorned with apples on December 24th, to celebrate the religious feast of Adam and Eve.

December continues to be a time for many different holiday celebrations around the world and across various cultures, with many celebrations featuring “light” and/or “trees” prominently, including, for example, Hanukkah (the Jewish Festival of Lights from December 22 to 30 this year), Bodhi Day (Buddhists’ celebration of Buddha’s awakening under the Bodhi tree, with traditions of multi-coloured lights and beads on a fichus tree), Scandinavia’s Feast of Juul holiday involving burning a log in the hearth to honour Thor, Yalda (Persian/Iranian celebration of the birth of the sun god Mithra and the victory of light over dark),and Kwanzaa to celebrate African heritage and culture with traditions that include lighting the kinara each day during December 26 to January 1. Lucia understandably was delighted to learn about the Scandinavian celebration of St. Lucia’s Day at this time of year, which includes traditions of girls wearing wreaths with candles on their heads, and making fires to fight off spirits at night. To learn more about these and other winter holiday / solstice festivals you may wish to check this article at https://bit.ly/2YDpZBc.

How to Say Tree of Life in Other Languages

  • Spanish – arbol de la vida
  • French – arbre de la vie
  • German – Baum des Lebens
  • Arabic – shajarat al haya
  • Italian – albero della vita
  • Hindi – jeevan ka ped
  • Anishinaabemowin – Nookomis Giizhig
  • Japanese – Inochi no ki.

Book Recommendations

We’ve received book recommendations from several of our Readers that are tree-themed or climate action-related. Thank you!  We offer them here in case Readers are looking for a good read to curl up and relax with over the holidays.

Richard Powers,  The Overstory. (Pulitzer Prize winning novel)

“The Overstory is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’ twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.” https://bit.ly/2Eag1y4

Robert Mcfarlane,  Underland.

“Underland marks a new turn in Macfarlane’s long-term mapping of the relations of landscape and the human heart. From its remarkable opening pages to its deeply moving conclusion, it is a journey into wonder, loss, fear, and hope. At once ancient and urgent, this is  book that will change the way you see the world.” (https://bit.ly/34bLtq3)

“The novel is about nine Americans whose unique life experiences with trees bring them together to address the destruction of forests.” https://bit.ly/2EaWVHS

Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees.

 “In The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben shares his deep love of woods and forests and explains the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in the woodland and the amazing scientific processes behind the wonders of which we are blissfully unaware. Much like human families, tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, and support them as they grow, sharing nutrients with those who are sick or struggling and creating an ecosystem that mitigates the impact of extremes of heat and cold for the whole group. As a result of such interactions, trees in a family or community are protected and can live to be very old. In contrast, solitary trees, like street kids, have a tough time of it and in most cases die much earlier than those in a group.

Drawing on groundbreaking new discoveries, Wohlleben presents the science behind the secret and previously unknown life of trees and their communication abilities; he describes how these discoveries have informed his own practices in the forest around him. As he says, a happy forest is a healthy forest, and he believes that eco-friendly practices not only are economically sustainable but also benefit the health of our planet and the mental and physical health of all who live on Earth.” (https://bit.ly/2E79eFa)

Naomi Klein, On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal.

Penguin Books says this book is a National Bestseller. A Must-Read book. Naomi Klein pairs a decade of her powerful writing on our acute environmental decline with new material on the staggeringly high stakes of what we choose to do next; and inspiringly offers here a politically viable, just, sustainable path forward.”  https://bit.ly/2PdXUxm

Michael Christie, Greenwood

A magnificent generational saga that charts a family’s rise and fall, its secrets and inherited crimes, and the conflicted relationship with the source of its fortune—trees—from one of Canada’s most acclaimed novelists https://bit.ly/2LSiNfl.

We found this Goodreads’ description of Greenwood to be an intriguing hook for wanting to learn more about the characters in this family – “It’s 2034 and Jake Greenwood is a storyteller and a liar, an overqualified tour guide babysitting ultra-rich vacationers in one of the world’s last remaining forests. It’s 2008 and Liam Greenwood is a carpenter, fallen from a ladder and sprawled on his broken back, calling out from the concrete floor of an empty mansion. It’s 1974 and Willow Greenwood is out of jail, free after being locked up for one of her endless series of environmental protests: attempts at atonement for the sins of her father’s once vast and violent timber empire. It’s 1934 and Everett Greenwood is alone, as usual, in his maple syrup camp squat when he hears the cries of an abandoned infant and gets tangled up in the web of a crime that will cling to his family for decades.” https://bit.ly/35fdoGU

Videos and Documentary Recommendations

On YouTube : Iceland Christmas Animated Video. (for the whole family)  – “Don’t buy products with palm oil- stop cutting down the rainforest”  at, https://bit.ly/2sofdmf.

On YouTube:  Team Trees: A Blogger Fundraises to Plant 20 Million Trees, at: https://bit.ly/2RKvJYG.

On You Tube: What Trees Talk About, David Suzuki.

This Nature of Things episode on What Trees Talk About takes a revealing look at the secret lives of trees-how they communicate, wage war, and work together to transform the world. https://bit.ly/35n5Kui.

Planet Earth – An 11-series Documentary by Sir David Attenborough

The BBC writes that, “Sir David Attenborough is one of the world’s best-known and admired wildlife film-makers. His incredible career watching wildlife as a naturalist and broadcaster has spanned nearly six decades. There are very few places on the globe that he has not visited.

“Over the last 25 years he’s worked with BBC teams on many landmark BBC series, of which ‘Planet Earth’ was one of the highlights. His first major series “Life on Earth” was watched by an estimated 500 million people around the world. His series are a benchmark of quality in wildlife film-making and have influenced generations of documentary film-makers.” https://bbc.in/2tahu58. The BBC’s Planet Earth video clips link: https://bbc.in/2YGWs9V.

Board Games

Blue Orange Games Photosynthesis Strategy Game

Friends4Trees4Life has found this cool, award-winning board game that we think is a perfect way for the whole family to have fun together learning about photosynthesis. This board game review and visuals have us hooked and keen to play:

“In Photosynthesis you are sowing the seeds to grow a beautiful woodland. As the sun moves around the board each day, you will harvest more sunlight with larger trees, which might overshadow others in the forest.

“Just by seeing the first images of Photosynthesis we knew it was a game we had to try. When it arrived, I relished the opportunity to punch out and assemble the cardboard trees that make this game look just as good, if not better, than most plastic miniatures games I’ve seen.

“Photosynthesis has been winning awards for its presentation, but everything about that presentation is core to the gameplay – which is a fantastic feat for an abstract game.

Photosynthesis Gameplay

“At the start of the game each player will take turns planting a tree until everyone has two small trees along the outside of the board. Every round of the game, each tree that isn’t obscured by shadow will generate sunlight, which acts as a currency to grow and spread your trees…..” Read more at: https://bit.ly/2PBHm19.

Shopping Carbon Negative? Sheep Inc. Merino Wool

Get cozy and be the first in your circle to wear the world’s first “carbon negative” clothing item – a Merino Wool Sweater from New Zealand’s Sheep Inc.

According to this l’Officiel description, “Sheep Inc. aims to be carbon-negative without sacrificing quality. Their sweaters use 100% Merino wool, which is then hand-spun into yarn and dyed in northern Italy at a mill that employs a number of sustainable practices including sourcing all of its power from renewable energy. 

“Like other brands going carbon neutral, Sheep Inc. will be carbon offsetting, which is the practice of cutting carbon emissions to counteract the emissions that are unavoidable. To be carbon-negative, the brand is going the much-needed extra mile and offsetting more than it actually emits.

“Because of the urgency of the climate crisis, Sheep Inc. has decided…to offset ten times their emissions,” said Mark Maslin, advisor to Sheep Inc. and the head of climatology at the University College London. “  Learn more at: https://bit.ly/2PBxy7B, or via Sheep Inc.’s website at https://sheepinc.com/. (Apparently, they even give you a sheep!)

Blog Holiday Hours

We’ll be taking a brief holiday break ourselves – so we won’t be posting on December 26. Our next post will be on Thursday, January 2, 2020. We hope there will be lots of news to update our Readers about global climate action plans coming out of the annual UN Council of the Parties’ meeting which wraps up on December 13, 2019 in Madrid.

Until then, we thank everyone for engaging with us at Friends4Trees4Life. We wish all our Readers a Happy Holiday and a very Happy New Year! See you again in 2020!!

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