Hardly any other time is as rich in traditions as the (pre)Christmas season. Here in South Tyrol, we put up nativity scenes, go ladling, tie Advent wreaths and: year after year, we set out in search of the perfect Christmas tree. It hasn't actually been around that long. Invented in the 15th century as a Protestant counterpart to the Catholic nativity scene, the Christmas tree as we know it today only really caught on in the 19th century. However, the idea of bringing something evergreen into the house for the winter solstice is much older.
The wondrous history of the Christmas tree
In pre-Christian times, pagan religions celebrated the winter solstice on 21 December with various rituals. Evergreen plants played an important role as a sign of fertility and eternal life. So a connection to today's Christmas tree can certainly be made here. Another theory has its origins in the Koran. There it is described that Mary gave birth to her son Jesus in the shade of a palm tree. This "tree of paradise" is also found later in Christian tablets. However, not in connection with the Mother of God, but in the popular story of Adam and Eve and Paradise. Some researchers see the palm tree as a paradise tree and the famous red apple as the origin of the Christmas tree tradition. And because no palm trees grow in the Alps, another tree had to be found that grows green all year round: firs or spruces. Or, as is the case here at the Alte Mühle: a Swiss stone pine.
The Swiss stone pine is the perfect Christmas tree
So there is no clear answer to the question of where the concept of the Christmas tree really comes from. But where our own Christmas tree comes from, we know exactly. Namely from the forests of the Ahrntal. As beautiful as they are, the firs and spruces, for decades we have only had a Swiss stone pine in our parlour. There are several reasons for this: First of all, there is the beguiling scent. The aroma of the stone pine wood permeates our entire house. We are real Swiss stone pine fans, after all, this special wood has proven positive effects on well-being, sleep and physical regeneration. Researchers have found that the ingredients of Swiss stone pine lower the heart rate. How practical - after all, things can sometimes get pretty hectic during the Christmas season. And the stone pine has another advantage: it loses its needles much less and much more slowly. Perhaps this is also because we take our Christmas pine out of the forest at a certain moon phase. But that is another story. We now set out to decorate our Swiss stone pine. Grandmother's beautiful Christmas tree baubles are already waiting to be taken out of the box. We wish you a blessed, healthy and peaceful Christmas and look forward to seeing you again at the Alte Mühle.