You might have come across upside down christmas trees being a rather fad thing in the recent past and it might have seemed to you a bizarre yet interesting addition to the Christmas decorations. Most shops or hotel lobbies have them displayed so that the Christmas decorations are visible to probable clients at the eye level, encouraging more floor space and keeping them out of reach of children. Some have liked it, others loved it while some have considered it to be a violation of Christmas tree terms and to some it represents blasphemy. But what might seem to be a recent phenomenon that has been sweeping the nation dates back to a long long time.
Upside Down Christmas Tree History:
The earliest reference of an upside down Christmas tree is in the legendary story of Saint Boniface. Saint Boniface saw a few pagans preparing to sacrifice a young man under an oak tree in order to celebrate the winter solstice. They believed the oak tree to be sacred. Seeing this the saint got very angry and cut down the tree. A fir tree sprung in its place and Boniface hung this inverted tree upside down to explain the concept of Holy Trinity,(God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) to the pagans while trying to convert them to his religion. The pagans who actually got converted continued this practice believing that the shape of the inverted fir resembled Christ’s crucifixion.
According to the tome, The Life of Saint Boniface, which is the main source on the saint’s life and has been written by the 8th century bishop Willibald, this entire story is a myth. Though there is a mention of the pagans and the oak ,there is no reference of the fir tree.
We get a reference of the upside down inverted tree in the Central and Eastern European traditions in the 12th century. But in those days it was not an entire tree that was hung upside down but just the top of the fir tree devoid of the huge decorations that we may find today.
There is a mention of this tradition in Bernd Brunner’s book, Inventing the Christmas tree, along with an illustration of the same dating back to the 19th century. The entire tree is hung but not upside down and the reason for doing this was to increase the floor space.
In Silesia, Podhale, Sacz and Krakow in Southern Poland, a spruce tree was hung upside down from the ceiling in a central position of the home. They were called sad, podtaz or podtazniczek and decorated with fruits, nuts, sweets wrapped in shiny attractive papers, straws, ribbons, gold painted pine cones and optaki. They were hung above the wigilia dinner table but not before Christmas Eve. The krakow has a tradition of decorating the tree with apples, nuts, pears and gingerbread but these treats could not be eaten until the day after Christmas.
The tradition made a comeback in 2005 in retail stores but the more famous instances that converted this tradition into a phenomena, with instagram and twitter being bombarded with posts of upside down inverted trees, are the ones at the London’s Tate Britain Museum in 2016 and the one designed by Karl Legerfeld for London’s legendary Claridge’s Hotel.
How to hang a Christmas tree upside down:
The inverted tree is either hung down from the ceiling using a bracket like a chandelier or tied to a wooden base from the tip using a wire and the base is affixed to the ceiling. Generally light weight decorating ornaments and lights are tied to the upside down tree with the help of floral binds. The floral binds secure them tightly. Shatterproof ornaments are preferred along with buffalo check ribbons, leather and tulle inspired designs. Traditional lights are giving way to micro fairies or a single strand of market lights.
Though this may not seem to be liked by everybody but as mentioned earlier these are pet and kid friendly options and leave you with ample floor space to place more gifts under the tree. If you are not afraid of trying something new, this can be your new way or you can even team up smaller versions of it with your traditional right side up Christmas Tree.