The traditional Easter Tree is a festive holiday custom whose roots trace back to Germany.
The branches are picked from trees and placed in a vase or in my case a bottle to be decorated with brightly coloured eggs and ribbons. The eggs can either be real eggs, carefully blown and a ribbon threaded through with a loop for hanging on the branch, then painted or decorated with glue and sequins etc. Alternatively, polystyrene and plastic eggs are available at most craft supply shops and pound shops at this time of year. Some of these are in two halves and can be filled with sweets or model chicks, as long as they are light they can still be hung on the tree. rather than painting these, this year I have chosen to wrap them in squares of fabric which I have tied with ribbon.
For my own Easter Tree I use Pussy Willow as I just adore the soft downy buds, but any branch can be used. A further option, which I have done in the past is to spray paint the branches, the effect of which can be very pretty indeed.
Easter Trees are also traditional in Sweden, where typically they use birch twigs and attach brightly coloured feathers to the end of the stems. I have come across several stories about the origin for the tradition in Sweden which date back to the 1600’s. Some used the twigs to beat each other in commemoration of the suffering of Jesus on Good Friday, whilst others believed the twigs to signify witches brooms used to sweep away winter.
Whatever the origin, these attractive decorations are great fun to make and children especially enjoy making and adding decorations. The options for decorations are endless and over the years I have tried many – the decorations which proved the biggest hit with the children were spiced biscuits threaded onto ribbons, half of which we cooked with a boiled sweet at the centre to provide a stained glass effect and half we decorated with icing.
I generally make a few easter trees, one sits on my coffee table while a second adorns the hall table and the third takes pride of place as a table centrepiece. Whilst the homemade decorations are undoubtedly the main appeal, I always add some carefully chosen silk flowers to fill the neck of the vase or bottle. this year, my favourites are some miniature daffodils which add just the right splash of colour and are just the right size to dress the neck of the bottle without detracting from the tree itself. I regularly mix silk flowers with real flowers and can honestly say that no-one has every noticed or commented. Silk flowers are generally of uniform size and can be manipulated to fill ‘gaps’ in an arrangement and to provide structure with the added benefit that they can be re-used!
The same silk daffodils and mimosa have inspired this years Easter Baby Clothes Bouquets and Easter Nappy Cake and I hope that for years to come they’ll continue to feature in the Easter Trees and decorations of their recipients.