Monday 7 December 2009

Up-Side Down Christmas Tree: Fad or Ancient Custom?

Christmas Trees
hanging up-side down from
a timber beam in an interior design store

Red Stags
mulling their part
in the display?

to relax and ponder this:

Up-side down Christmas trees
may be the latest fad,
but the custom has ancient roots.
Back in the early Middle Ages,
fir trees hanging up-side down from
the ceiling symbolized the Holy Trinity.


Photographed today at
Christian L.Einwaller Ateliers
Palais Harrach

Images and Text
© by Merisi


  1. looks like something that would be hanging in a modern art exhibit :)

  2. Weird. Maybe they're drying it out for something?

  3. What an odd idea since the right way up they form the triangular symbol with God the father at the top. Ah, well, there is no accounting for tastes...

  4. Very interesting about the upside down trees. I like the way they look.

    Paz ;-)

  5. I wanted to do that one year, mainly because our stupid tree wouldn't stand straight. But my hubby said NO. I'll have to pass this little tidbit on to him... Thanks!

  6. The Christmas tree in my ship is often like that when we're battling round Cape Horn.

  7. How interesting! I have never seen upside-down trees like those.

  8. An interesting approach . . . but not one that my tradition worshiping family is likely to embrace.

  9. I do like this question of trees turned around.

    First time I ever saw this phenom was in a restaurant ... way back in the newly ancient last century. I figured it was a way to catch the eyes of folks passing by the window.

    I had no idea, and wonder if the restauranteurs had, that there was tradition at the center of this gravity.

    Whatever the cause, the photos are feasts for the eye.


  10. I had no idea that was based in ancient tradition. Not my style of decorating, but to each his own I guess.
    To answer your burning question about my "different" picture. I really don't know what it is. I think its a very old piece of farm equipment I saw at Bodie, California, which is a ghost town now. I was just having fun with the perpsective and focus. It really wasn't a pretty sight if you saw me in the position I had to get in to take this shot...HaHa.

  11. Amazing history lesson. Thank you very much. I thought they hung them upside down to punish Santa for being naughty, but no, your post helped clarify that.

    Greetings from London.

  12. Hmnn, no, 'tis not for me, not at all, ancient tradition or not, I just think they look plain daft dangling up there!

  13. mmmm, i didn't know about the upside-down trees... something new one learns every day.

  14. I'd heard about these. Don't know whether or not I like the custom, though . . .

  15. Kay,
    yes, and when I walk by Christian L.Einwaller Ateliers' showrooms, I always feel enriched, as if I had actually visited a gallery!

    Juju at Tales of Whimsy,
    I can't help it, but those fir trees stir vividly a childhood memory of mine, when I was supposed to stay over a weekend with a great-aunt of mine, which ended when I discovered pheasants hanging in her shed. They caused an acute case of home-sickness when my great-aunt announced that they were going to be the Sunday meal. My parents had to pick me up that same Saturday afternoon. Those two pheasant are engraved in my mind, like a still life, make that a dead still life. ;-)

  16. Arija,
    "What an odd idea since the right way up they form the triangular symbol with God the father at the top."
    Yes, that's how we interpret it today, yet, our forefathers chose to see it differently. I read that nowadays some Christians find the ancient way of hanging the fire tree upside down disrespectful.

    I would be surprised if the decorators had not done research on the ancient roots of hanging the tree upside down. After all, they staged the exhibition in a way that evokes a centuries old building, somewhere high in the mountains probably. Even though I cannot translate the idea to my own home, I could imagine decorating a snowed-in hut at Christmastime with a single fir tree hanging upside down, which would probably look more natural in such a setting then, say, a wreath.

  17. McVal,
    it's never too late! *giggles*
    Be careful, though, a friend told me that a couple of years ago a tree too heavy for the hook it was hanging from upside down, actually crushed during a Christmas open house in a socialite's house in Washington, DC.

    Seattle Boy,
    some algae tree probably would hang on just right! ;-)

    I saw one during my first year here, in a florist's shop. It was a real stunner. I saw it driving by in my car at night and then searched for days for the location on foot. I found it, after all. Putting a tree upside down gives you more branch space to hang ornaments and it leaves the space below to decorate with even more goodies. Good for the merchants. ;-)

  18. Vicki Lane,
    you could start by hanging a little fir or hemlock tree from your porch ceiling! ;-)

    yes, it is a show stopper,
    the customs may be old, but there's always a way to present them as fresh and new. ;-)

  19. Photowannabe:
    I imagine how you took that pictures of yours! :-)
    Remember my recent Franziskanerplatz picture, looking from inside out onto the square? I was sitting in the corner of the church vestibule, trying to get as low down as possible, hoping no once would enter while I was in that precarious position. I could have gotten an even better shot on my tummy, but was too timid for that position. ;-)

  20. A Cuban In London,
    it does look like a punishment and one could interpret it as being done in memory of Christian martyrs who were tortured and died that way.

    Let's see of you can find any upside down trees in London! ;-)

    I can't imagine our tree hanging like that,
    really weird. ;-)

  21. Shadow,
    so true! :-)

    Country Girl,
    as I said, in a rural setting,
    a little fir tree hanging by the entrance, from a porch ceiling. ;-)
    Then again, people may interpret it as being done with Christmas before the holiday even arrives! :-)

  22. I don't thnk the walls of my house would stand nailed-up trees! lol :)

  23. It is interesting. I was wondering where some folks here were getting the idea to do that. Now I have a clue. Thanks!

  24. They're beautiful and mysterious. I could hang them from my beams at the manor!

  25. Junksy,
    I would have the same worry! ;-)

    our forefathers were quite ingenious too! ;-)

    yes, I like that image!
    Reminds me of "Les Parapluies de Cherbourg",
    umbrellas floating in the sky. ;-)

    please let me know if you did! :-)

  26. Well that is different and intresting imformation on the meaning but I'm keeping mine upright! LOL! xoxo


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