Twelfth Night

Epiphany is the climax of the Advent/Christmas Season and the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are usually counted from the evening of December 25th until the morning of January 6th, which is the Twelfth Day. January 5th is usually considered Twelfth Night.

This is an occasion for feasting in some cultures, and the end of the annual Christmas tree sacrifice.

Discarded Christmas treeThis year, the carnage was everywhere. Coniferous remains lay scattered in the streets, used and discarded. Only days ago, they basked in the warmth and glow of an atmosphere filled with love and festive spirit.

Every Christmas, the seemingly cruel treatment of natural, once-alive conifers strikes a chord. Thirty million trees are ripped out each year, so that indulged North American families can enjoy them for two weeks and then just easily dispose of them.

Every year, the decorating magazines wring their hands over real versus artificial.

Most Christmas trees are now raised on established farms, meaning deforestation isn’t an issue, but they must be shipped, often from long distances. Because they are farmed as agricultural products, they often require repeated applications of pesticides over their typical eight-year lifecycles. Therefore, while they are growing–and then again once they are discarded–they may contribute to pollution of local watersheds. Beyond the run-off issue, the sheer numbers of trees that get discarded after every holiday can be a big waste issue for municipalities that aren’t prepared to mulch them for compost.

85% of artificial Christmas trees are made in China, typically from oil-derived, pollution-releasing polyvinyl chloride (PVC). A number have been found to contain lead. Once finally disposed of, artificial trees will last for centuries in landfills. And they have to be shipped.

Norfolk PineThe easiest, most festive way to be earth friendly is to decorate with a living Norfolk Island Pine. No live trees to cut down, no dead needles to clean up and no discarded tree to drag to the curb and overload the landfills.

Easy to grow, Norfolk Island Pines make cheerful centerpieces during your holiday feast and add eco-flair to your home’s decor. A native of the South Pacific, the soft, compact needles and naturally symmetrical shape of the tree provides a charming backdrop for all your seasonal celebrations.

Small enough for a tabletop display in the kitchen or hall or large enough to be the focal point of any room, they tuck nicely into tight spaces in apartments, dorm rooms, patios or cozy corners. After the holidays, untrim your mini tree and place it in a pretty pot and use as a house plant. With just a little care, your Norfolk Island Pine will reward you for many Christmases to come.

Place the Norfolk Island Pine in an open, bright location such as on countertops, tabletops or in an office, but not in full sun. They prefer to be near a window but away from direct heat. Keep the soil moist but don’t let it dry out or stand in water. Feed with a complete balanced fertilizer every month.

Of course, greenest of all would be an outdoor tree: a newly planted Colorado blue spruce, say, just outside the biggest north-facing window of your home (to block winds and help lower heating bills), And instead of ornaments, the tree attracts real feathered friends.

If you want a live tree, especially in northern climates, wait until spring. Unlike a live Christmas tree, which will come in from the cold and then be moved out again, a spring tree is likely to remain outside and then be planted within days, greatly improving its chances of survival, he explains.

For those determined to have a living holiday tree, try a potted one. Keep it in a biodegradable pot and, if it is moved to a porch or garage after the holiday, it should do fine in the soil once it thaws.

Discarded Christmas trees

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