Monday, 15 December 2014

The Christmas Tree Problems

Christmas tree wrapping machine

I was at the local supermarket today all on my own. Mr. Swiss had to go to the dentist and I was trusted with the car. I combined my shopping trip with a photography expedition and here are the Christmas trees ready to be put in the living room outside the supermarket. You might be asking what the machine is at the front of the photo. Perhaps it is a Swiss invention, or perhaps they are all over the world, something we imported from our American colony? It is quite clever. You put the tree in the hole on the left and push it through. At the same time the plastic net covers the tree and is sealed when the operation is finished. You have a neatly packed Christmas tree to carry home or for the boot of the car. 

’Tis the time of year again, where we slaughter a few thousand Christmas trees for the annual festivities. Ok, I am not innocent. When we had all four kids at home, we had our Christmas tree in the corner with the usual decorations. On Christmas Eve, our Swiss christmas, it was surrounded with parcels with the presets and everyone was happy. It is not so custom in Switzerland to put up the tree at the  beginning of December, no it is decorated and placed in its place of honour on the afternoon of 24th December. I do not know why, perhaps the Swiss reform church decided to postpone the tree until last. The reformers were not well known for being happy and festive people. They were more on the serious side of things.

I remember the first time that my mum and dad arrived in Switzerland from England for Christmas. Of course it was all a bit different, having the big meal in the evening of christmas Eve, but food is food. The only problem that my mum had was the Christmas tree. You see, we have genuine candles on the tree. None of those colourful electric strings of light flashing on and off constantly, We had about 20-30 candle holders on the branches and we lit the candles in the holders. It was very pretty to see, the flames flickering in the living room when all the lights were turned off. Only mum got nervous. She was constantly throwing glances towards the tree waiting for it to go up in flames.

Honestly speaking the firemen in Switzerland do have somewhat more to do over Christmas: quenching a flaming Christmas tree, or a Christmas wreath which has four king-sized candles. If you forget the burning candles, you might have a burnout at Christmas. We always had a bucket of water hidden behind the tree if it began to burn. Did it burn? Oh yes a few times, but you hear the crackling of the twigs and smell the delicious scent of the needles on the tree. Generally we only lost a few needles or twigs and we all survived. 

Now we have a mini tree with about 8 electric lights. My two felines would prefer a full sized tree. They find it is a multi purpose claw sharpener and training column for climbing. I told them they can go climb a bush outside, but they decided it was too cold. 

Enjoy your trees if you have one, otherwise you might have a tropical plant in the living room which you can decorate. I remember we had one in the office where I worked and I had the brilliant idea of hanging Chrismas chocolate on the branches. My boss was at first not so happy, but when he saw what was hanging on the branches he changed his mind, he was a chocolate lover.

Enjoy your trees and don’t forget the bucket of water if you dare to have real candles.


  1. You Christmas sounds very much like the tradition I experienced in my early years - having an Austrian mother and all that. Christmas Eve was for family and family only. Dinner, gifts and Mass. An Austrian friend of my mother's took the Christmas tree tradition to Singapore in the very early 50s where of course, only artificial ones were to be had. Needless to say the tree went up in flames during a Christmas party and my suddenly very sober father was the one who acted quickly and threw it out of the window of the married quarters ground floor flat!

    I cannot bear multi coloured lights just as I cannot bear flashing lights - real migraine stuff!

    What seems like a hundred years ago, I can still smell the pine of my Omi's tree.

  2. Putting up a Christmas tree is not something I've done for quite a few years, as I don't spend Christmas at home but travel to stay with my parents (now, sadly, only my mother this year).