Sunday, December 4, 2016

O, Tannenbaum 2016

I love winter and the tradition of the decorated and lighted tree. When I was a little boy, it always felt so connected to the time of the year, the elements, the snow and darkness. Even then, I sensed the pagan roots of this tradition and now that I am an adult, I love it even more.

Descended from the Roman festival of Saturnalia, and from Pagans and Druids from all over Europe, the tree is an expression of the season: deciduous trees, plants, flowers, and crops die off (or go dormant) while the pine remains magically alive, the only thing that stays green in the natural world (Latin sempervirent = evergreen) at this time of year. It only makes sense to honor the earth, the season, and the fir itself by bringing it inside to decorate and echo the look of the land.

This is the time of the Winter Solstice, short grey days and long dark nights, where twinkling stars are visible for so much longer. As an homage to the winter sky, lights are put on the tree, again echoing the natural world. It’s also reminiscent of the bonfires many different pagan cultures lit around the countryside to ward off the darkness and chill; lights on the tree bring some light and warmth to this lifeless time of year, and speak to a time when the days will eventually grow longer, the planet will again tilt, and summer will return.

I hope you get to enjoy a seasonal tree of your own this winter.
Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Ice Hotel 2016

The annual Ice Hotel that is built from actual snow and ice every year in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden has been open for a few weeks now. And every year, the design for the hotel as well as each of the rooms is different! Participating artists and designers come to sculpt and craft the suites into works of art that one can sleep in.

But even though the Ice Hotel is located 200 miles above the Arctic Circle, the sun comes to melt the structure every spring. Yet now you cn stay at the Ice Hotel year-round! The just-announced cool news, pun intended, is that the Ice Hotel is creating structure at a former ice storage site adjacent to the property. The power to keep the structure chilled will be generated by solar panels that will absorb the near-constant sun that region of the world gets in spring and summer! Genius.

Here are some photos of this year's 27th incarnation of the Ice Hotel.

And here are renderings of the soon-to-be-opened year round facility--a view in winter and a view in summer with the green, living room in full bloom!