Saturday, 9 December 2017

Celebrating Trees on 2nd December

A year ago, in December 2016, Friends of Mayow Park held our first Tree Dressing Day in the community orchard, an opportunity to celebrate how the orchard has developed with the help of so many volunteers. We had such fun then and the committee wanted to hold the event again this year. We were anxious about the weather but after a light drizzle the rain held off for the rest of the morning.
A team of volunteers gathered at the orchard to put up our gazebo, unfurl our banner, check we had enough fabrics, paper, pens, pencils and crayons, wool, ribbons and string plus apple juice, tea, coffee and hot water. Our story teller, Rich Sylvester, arrived and set up his area under the protective branches of a lime tree.
Rich prepares for story telling

By 10am we were ready to welcome visitors.
Visitors welcomed to our gazebo

But why hold this event? Tree Dressing is based on many old customs from all over the world, celebrated at different times of the year.
Tree Dressing Day in England falls on the first weekend of December every year. It was initiated by the charity Common Ground in 1990 and has grown to become a chance for the whole community to gather and celebrate the leafy friends we all have in common. It is also a chance for communities to reflect on the social and cultural history of their local area, and the role that trees have played in shaping that story. 
Trees have provided our sustenance, food, shelter, medicine and the air we breathe. They are part of our history and also our future. Trees have long been celebrated for their spiritual significance. It can be as simple as tying strips of cloth or yarn to a tree. The practice in Japan is to decorate trees with strips of white paper, or tanzaku, bearing wishes or poetry. 
Borrowing from these many traditions, our Tree Dressing included paper leaves for people to write messages or draw pictures to give to the trees, tie coloured strips of fabric (with or without messages) or make objects to hang in the trees.

Dream catcher

Our story teller captured the imagination of young and old with his stories and showed how to make dream catchers to add to the decorative creativity that was transforming our orchard.

creative decorations

More creative decorations

We finished off the morning with rousing winter songs led by our two wonderful singers Lucy and Valerie, and some mulled wine with thanks to Valerie and Robert.
There are so many thank yous: thank you to all those who visited our event, the lovely children and families who joined in the story telling. Thank you to our story teller Rich. Thank you to all the volunteers who contributed so much of their time. 
Celebrating Tree Dressing in our community orchard was a wonderful way to show our appreciation  of trees in our locality and to share tree stories with everyone who joined us.