Rocking around the Christmas tree, let the Christmas spirit ring... This popular song by Johnny Marks perfectly evokes the magic of the winter solstice. Enter any mall from now till New Year's Eve, and the walkways sparkle with a variety of decorations and lights at every turn, spreading the Christmas cheer.

Standing resplendent with beautiful ornaments and twinkling lights, the Christmas tree is an integral part of Christmas celebrations. What was once a simple family tradition has today become much more elaborate with many commercial establishments installing huge trees with plenty of lights on Christmas Eve. The festive fervour has transcended religious boundaries, with Christian and non-Christian homes celebrating Christmas by putting up their tree in the festive season.

However, with the artificial Christmas trees flooding the market, the real ones are rarely seen. “Though fir is a top selling one across the world, Indian weather is not conducive for its growth. But few coastal regions grow these trees in plenty. As children we would run to the beachside to get the pine with stiff branches and dark green needles and decorate it for Christmas. It was fun to paint the pine cones which would go in as centrepiece for the tree. But now we settle for the artificial ones as it is hassle-free and easy," says Sharina Karuvely, a social worker with an NGO.

As the year draws to its close, the Christmas tree and its sprightly festive fervour adds glee by taking one away from all the stress and making the season a time of peace and love. And the evergreen tree continues to sparkle.

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