Ritual for honoring a Christmas tree

This is a ritual I just kind of made up, and I think it’s got a few gaps, but the idea is clear enough.

Ritual for honoring a Christmas tree

If choosing the tree while it is still alive:

  • Place bare hand against the tree.
Tree, I am _____________. Today I am asking you if you will lay down your life to join my family as we welcome the return of the sun. If you agree to this thing, I promise that you shall be honored. We shall celebrate you in lights and finery, surround you with joy and hope, and praise your sacrifice. We shall ensure that your remains nourish the Earth so that your spirit will never die.

If choosing from trees which have already been cut:

  • Place bare hand against the tree.
Tree, I am _____________. You have laid down your life, and if your spirit is willing, I ask you to join my family as we welcome the return of the sun. I promise that you shall be honored. We shall celebrate you in lights and finery, surround you with joy and hope, and make your death into a meaningful sacrifice. We shall ensure that your remains nourish the Earth so that your spirit will never die.

If you feel the tree is not the correct one:

Tree, I thank you for considering my request. May your days be blessed by bud, root, and thorn.


Preparing the tree at home:

  • Place the tree in a cold, sheltered area until it is time to set it up.
  • Cut off the bottom of the trunk to allow for better water absorption.
  • Dissolve the measures of honey into a hot cup of water. Stir this into enough water to fill the tree stand.
  • The men should set the tree up in its stand.
  • The women should add the water.
  • Decorate the tree:
  • Skirt to shelter it as the ground once did
  • Balls and bells to foretell the life of Spring
  • Lights to honor the returning Sun
  • Sing songs or chant while decorating
  • Surround or gather near the tree and sing a carol of your choosing to the tree. Repeat daily.

Saying Farewell:

  • While removing decorations again sing to the tree, choosing songs of parting and farewell
  • Allow the tree to rest at least three days outside, if possible
    • Allow it to decompose naturally if there is space, as it will make a good nest for many animals
    • Donate it to a mulching facility
    • Cut off the bottom foot of the trunk for next year’s Yule log if a Maypole isn’t available

The idea came out of writing an article on the Care and Feeding of Cut Christmas Trees. Suggestions and feedback welcome. What would you add?

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3 thoughts on “Ritual for honoring a Christmas tree

  1. As “live tree” harvesters, we’ve done something quite similar to this for years. One addition to the ritual as you’ve given it here: we were taught to offer honey to the stump of any tree we cut (including for a staff or other magical tool); we altered that, though, when we reflected on trees like oaks that can put forth new shoots, and the fact that the honey may draw insects that might be harmful to the remaining life in the tree.Instead, it has been, for some years now, our custom to offer each tree we cut–including our Yule tree–a bottle of beer (preferably our very best home brew). Mead would also be a great choice, but made by us would always be the preference. We pour it out over the cut end of the tree and over the stump.The idea is to acknowledge the mutuality of sacrifice. We, too, will ultimately be sacrificed and offered back to the earth. (Needless to say, I am an advocate of green burial; for the time being, the beer and a future offering of my cremains are as close as I’ll be able to come to physically enacting that mutual offering one day.)

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  2. P.S. I’ve tagged this post to < HREF="http://metapagan.blogspot.com/" REL="nofollow">MetaPagan<>–it should show up in the MetaPagan widget in the near future, and hopefully bring some traffic to your site.Bright blessings!

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  3. Cat,Two comments, one reply.First: I love the idea of offering beer! Of course it would mean having to learn to brew it . . . but even if I don’t go that far, the level of sacrifice is a good one to aim for.Second: thanks for the MetaPagan link! I haven’t gotten actively involved there because I want to learn more about using delicious first, but it’s actually pretty high on my list.

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