Fir – Rising
Genus: Abies – Family: Pinaceae
Fir trees represent a time of positive forward movement as we rise to meet the challenges and opportunities that are in front of us.
The genus name Abies is a Latin word, meaning “rising one.” Firs, like cedars, differ from other conifers because of their erect cylindrical pinecones, which rise from the branches like candles. Hans Christian Anderson’s story The Little Fir, speaks to the desire of the fir tree to rise above and be seen without truly understanding what that may entail. By wishing to feel special one must be prepared for the rewards, responsibilities and consequences that may follow. In turn, this increased attention and scrutiny forces one to rise above their fears. The word “fir” comes from the Old English word firgen meaning “mountain forest”, based on ancient words like firre and fyr, meaning “fire” and “light”. Fir trees and other evergreens were ancient symbols of eternal light associated with the Winter Solstice and the return of the Sun.
Evergreen wreaths decorated doorways during the Roman festival of Saturnalia, which led up to the Winter Solstice in honor of Saturn the Roman god of Agriculture. Germanic people brought evergreen boughs into their homes during the mid-winter festival of Yuletide. When early Christians chose December 25, the date of the Winter Solstice, to celebrate Jesus’s birth many of these ancient nature-based traditions were incorporated into Christianity.
In the 1500’s fir trees were brought into homes on December 24 to celebrate the religious feast day of Adam of Eve. Known as “Paradise Trees” they were decorated with apples to represent the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. Candles were added to symbolize Jesus as the bringer of light the next day. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar, which shifted the astronomical date of the Winter Solstice from December 25 to December 21. The Sun’s true position had changed since the Julian calendar was enacted in 42 BCE, this separated the old “pagan” traditions from the new celebration of “Christ’s Mass”. Firs were still seen as “Yuletide” trees until the 1800’s, when an illustration of Queen Victoria and Prince Edward’s candle-lit fir in Windsor Castle was featured in a magazine and the term “Christmas Tree” became accepted. Today, Balsam fir, Nordmann fir, Fraser fir and noble fir are all prized Christmas trees.
There are 48-56 species of fir trees living throughout North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Firs are coniferous evergreens that grow to heights of 30-200 feet. Their green needles appear flattened on the branches and their wood very is aromatic.
Message: The spirit of fir tree encourages us to see the bigger picture and rise to the occasion during times of rapid change. Now is the time to stand up and take action on something that was set in motion long ago. By rising above the mundane issues that pull us down we can see the true opportunities that are in front of us. By being authentic with ourselves and others we can stand in a place of strength and integrity that will help us achieve our goals.
Challenge: Wanting to remain unseen even when we need to take a stand. Not believing in our selves or our potential contributions.
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