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It’s the time of the year again and Orchard Road is bright and jolly with all the xmas decorations. Last year, during this same time, I posted a link to a post about the history of Christmas, this year, let’s talk about the history of Christmas trees.
The Christmas tree is a very popular form of decoration for the Christmas season and in Singapore, even the non-christians have trees at home and celebrate this festival.
Long time ago, in Germany and northern Europe, trees were pagan objects symbolising the fertility of nature gods. The practice of decorating coniferous trees was done during the winter solstice which occurs around dec 21. This practice was then adopted into Christian practice after the Church set dec 25 as the birth date of Christ. (Jesus wasn’t actually born on dec 25: read article here)
In the 13th Century, people used to hang the trees upside down – to symbolise trinity. When and why it became upright later I’m not too sure. But I’m guessing it’s alot easier for people to keep the tree upright instead of nailing it to the ceiling.
There are many legends regarding the origins of this practice of putting up the Christmas tree: read about them here.
But there’s one thing people should think about before putting one up – Trees take a long time to grow… If you want a tree, get a plastic one. Sure, it wouldn’t smell as nice as a real one, but at least u aren’t killing a tree just for one day. A plastic one can be re-used too and u wouldn’t be depriving a squirrel of a home. =p
A recent trip to Asian Civilisation Museum in Singapore for the Nalanda exhibition gave me new insights about Buddhism – a religion that is commonly practiced here in Singapore.
There’s many temples in Singapore that cater to Buddhist worshippers and it’s easy to distinguish these temples as they would have a statue (if not several) of buddha himself. But did you know that when Buddha first passed away, he had specifically requested not to have any imagery of himself made. Because of this, old buddhist relics used to depict Buddha with either footprints or an empty naga (snake) throne (u are suppose to imagine Buddha is on the throne). Only later on did people start making statues of Buddha. And even then, the styles change from place to place – like in Persia, the statues used to look like they had a lot of greek influence.
I would post some photos up except that I wasn’t allowed to bring any camera in the museum. However, here’s a post with photos and more details about the exhibit and the religion Buddhism: click here.
What’s interesting was that despite Buddha not wanting his image to be worshiped, people still made and worship statues of him anyway. I wonder what he would think about the prolificity of his statues in temples all around Singapore now… (note: it’s just a question. i mean no harm in asking)
Anyway, Nalanda Trail is a really good exhibit so do go and see it if you can. It’s S$10 for adults, S$5 for students in ACM.
p.s. go during the guided tour for better insight to the exhibits themselves