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The evergreen tree

Natural and artificial, Christmas trees now come in a wide variety

THE CONCEPT of having a tree during Christmas is believed to have begun in Germany about 1000 years ago. The tree is a symbol of the Christmas spirit. The usual belief is that children who hang their stockings on the tree will receive gifts from Santa Claus. Martin Luther is supposed to have placed candles in front of the `evergreen' tree.

The concept of decorating Christmas tree appears to have started in Britain in the middle of the 19th Century. It is true that these days people opt for artificial trees more than natural ones, especially those living in high-rise buildings.

Inscape Garden on Greenways Road offers natural trees that are 6-7 ft. tall. "I feel natural trees are more attractive" says Subramanian of the plants boutique.

There are two species of Christmas tree saplings. The Asian climatic condition is conducive to the Araucaria variety. The other kind is Norway Spruce of Europe, which can withstand cold weather. The Araucaria can be an excellent indoor plant as well. It requires water only once in two days. The tree should be exposed to sunlight once in ten days. The manure for natural trees should be changed every six months.

"The business of selling Christmas trees is slightly risky as there may or may not be any sale till December 22. So it becomes difficult to plan for the following year," says Subramanian.

Dew Drops at Nungambakkam sells both natural and artificial varieties. "Decoration can be done more effectively on artificial trees. So everybody prefers them," says Patricia of the store. They have a tie-up with the Solar Nursery in Adyar. Prabhu of the Solar Nursery says that there are still people who opt for the natural ones.

Raave `s, a well-known name in the field, have a collection of fibre optic Christmas trees. "The optic range with bells, bows and thermacol grapes is another attractive addition," says Richard of the store. "Where is the space to grow trees when most most of the land is being eaten up by concrete structures," he asks. The artificial trees are compact and easy to maintain. The shop also has a collection of tabletop (2-3 feet) fibre optic trees and accessories like illuminating angels, porcelain crib sets, candle stands, etc. Raave's has outlets in Spencer's Plaza, Egmore, Adyar and West Tambaram.

Johan's Christmas Supplies at Purasawalkam opens just for the Christmas season. "The specialities this year are pinecone with drizzles and brown interleaves, the four-feet white tree, which signifies snow with dried twigs," says Joan Pandian, the proprietor. They also stock hand-painted thermacol decorations. "The concept of ribbon decoration is yet to catch on," she says. Isabel Wilton of Something Special at Egmore feels that as natural trees cannot be decorated with bulbs, people generally go in for the artificial kind. A few Christian institutions and Sunday schools conduct a Christmas tree programme on December 25 for the underprivileged children, and distribute gifts and cakes. This programme is organised to highlight the concept of giving. The spirit of Christmas is kept alive by the presence of a decorated tree promising gifts and goodwill all around.


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