Our beautiful Yew Tree lit up at night with Christmas lights, photo by PH Morton
The Yew Tree
We have got a lovely yew tree in our front garden which we dress up with lights on Christmas. It is now about 8 feet tall and still growing.
But did you know that the yew tree has a not quite a nice superstition attached to it?!!!
Yew (Taxus baccata) is a characteristic tree of churchyards, where some are estimated to be well over 1,000 years old.:
It is believed that ever since people arrived upon UK shores, they planted yew trees in acts of sanctification, close to where they eventually hoped to be laid to rest.
And, according to a label on a yew tree at Kew Gardens in 1993:
The Druids regarded yew as sacred and planted it close to their temples. As early Christians often built their churches on these consecrated sites, the association of yew trees with churchyards was perpetuated
Apparently, if you bring in a yew (as part of a bundle of greenery for decoration) inside the house at Christmas, there will be a death in the family before the year out. It is also advised not to take yew inside the house because it is very unlucky!!!
Oh no, our yew tree is so beautiful to be a source of such malevolent superstition.
And all parts of the yew tree are poisonous, the hidden seeds inside the berries are extremely poisonous.
As I mentioned in my earlier blog (O (Old) Christmas Tree) about Christmas decorations and how we get them from storage in our loft/attics etc at the beginning of each Christmas season. We check the plugs and fuses of our old Christmas lights and see how many bulbs still work. I think the oldest lights I have are over 40 years old and we drape them around our 45-year-old Christmas tree I had when growing up.
Last Christmas when we were in the Philippines visiting our family, we saw amazing Christmas decorations and lights almost everywhere. We bought back from halfway around the globe, one particular Christmas decoration which is popular in the Philippines. It is called a paról.
A paról is a star-shaped or star patterned lantern, the shape representing the Star of Bethlehem that guided The Three Kings to the birthplace and manger of Jesus. A paról can come in various sizes and designs/patterns as long as it is a five-pointed star shape and can be illuminated. They are traditionally made out bamboo and paper. Nowadays they can be constructed from materials such as plastic, glass, thick strong polythene & light metal strips They are illuminated by candles or electric light bulbs. paróls are traditional to Filipinos at Christmas as the Christmas tree is to us. Modern electric/battery powered paróls can produce colourful complex patterns like some of our home Christmas lights.
Beyond the Deepening Shadow – 100th Anniversary of Armistice
Tomorrow will see the 100th anniversary of Armistice which ended the war in the land, air, and water during the First World War.
As a symbol of remembrance, some 10,000 candles were lit at dusk (5 p.m.) at the moat of the Tower of London in the last few days and will be culminating tomorrow at the actual day of the anniversary: the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
Peter and I went to see the candles at the tower yesterday. It was packed by people who were uncomplaining in an orderly but extremely long queue.
In the end, it was all worth it, the vista of the flickering thousands of lights was evocative and atmospheric. It was amazing and wonderful to behold.