Friday, 16 December 2011

Fashion designers, philosophers and Christmas trees

I’ve often wondered if trees in their own way could get a bit philosophical about life on this planet.  “I grow, therefore I am”, to coin René Descartes’ thought, is probably all the tree wants, just to be getting along with the neighbours and bringing on the children.  But no, we humans have to come along and imbue them with meanings all of our own. 

Take Christmas trees: this one’s busy making its contribution to fashion, art, sculpture, knitting, and eventually to charity when it’s auctioned off in Paris along with the other ‘trees’ in the Collection Les Sapins de Noel des Créateurs.  It was designed by Stella McCartney, and created by Extreme Knitting inventor Rachel John, and has been part of the 15th season of creations by this amazing fund-raising organisation right at the heart of the Paris fashion world.  To some, this tree radiates ‘design’; to others it will resonate through its materials and craftsmanship, and to the person who buys it, it will represent their charity giving, or perhaps a part of it, for this year. 

Across Scandinavia, what we call ‘Christmas Trees’ are the basis for many industries, in countries where there are far more trees than people.  Trees represent renewable resources, to be grown sustainably for future generations, and whose wood locks in carbon dioxide for the life of the wood product made from it.  The self-same type of tree, to the people of the city of Oslo, represents a ‘thank you’ to the people of London for their support in World War II. One has been sent from Oslo to London as ambassador every year since 1947, and this year on 1st December its lights were switched on to herald the coming of Christmas.  In more ancient times, evergreen trees were respected for their ability to continue on unchanged through the seasons, and as symbols of life and re-birth in the dark days of the northern winters. 

Discussing with my mum today the energy of Christmas, we decided it was the aspects of hope, re-birth and the continued cycle of life that gives Christmas its enduring appeal.  The hope of continuing life was brought home to me recently by Stitch London’s choice of charity for their Christmas raffle:  the Andrea Giles Yes to Life campaign Like many other craftspeople I made a donation to the raffle - a skein of my Mega Yarn.  I hope Stitch London raised loads of money to enable Andrea to continue with her treatment.   The event was supported by Knit! Magazine. 

Whether you’re a fashion designer or a charity knitter, if you’re putting up a Christmas tree soon for the festive season, take a moment out to consider its many positive contributions, to you, to the environment, maybe even to the economy.  But most of all consider the tree as an object of wonder in its own right, a work of art, science, sculpture and nature, worthy of marvel even before the decorations go on. 

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