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Christmas Trees

How evergreen branches made it from Ancient Egypt to Buckingham Palace
WORDS: CATRIONA GREW. PHOTOGRAPH: THE DAVID PEARSON COLLECTION/MARY EVANS PICTURE LIBRARY

EVERGREEN TREES STOOD as symbols of hope and rejuvenation long before they became a staple of the festive season and depot for family Christmas presents. The Ancient Egyptians worshipped the sun god Ra, and believed winter descended when he grew sick in the latter part of the year. They decked their homes with green palms seasonally to assure themselves that he’d soon be well again. The Roman festival of Saturnalia marked a similar excitement around the return to power of Saturn (god of agriculture) ater the barren winter months. Romans laid out evergreen boughs in their temples to express gratitude at his return.

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About Lonely Planet Traveller (UK)

In the January issue… find wintry beauty on a Great Escape to the Czech Republic, going beyond Prague's Old Town in search of less familiar treasures; head out into the hills of eastern Victoria, on the trail of an Australian legend – Ned Kelly; discover a wayward replica of Central Europe in Argentina's Lake District; make your weekend in the Swedish capital a perfect one; experience winter in all its chilly glory with diverse ideas, from Christmas markets to ice-fishing; and much more