Pine Tree for the New Year

the pine tree of the Turks, the tree of life

New Year, Christmas, Nardugan, whatever you celebrate, the most wonderful time of the year is coming. The glow of this special and beautiful time of the year has always warmed my heart. A decorated house, the warmth of being together with family and friends, a delightful table with delicious food, lots of laughter, a month full of joy and hope. Of course, in addition to all this, the most important question of the period is: why do you decorate a pine tree for the New Year! The Christmas tree, thought by some to belong to Christian beliefs, is actually a Turkish tradition.

Origin of the Decorating a Pine Tree for the New Year

Although the tradition of decorating a pine tree for the New Year is nowadays a part of Christian culture, its roots at this time of the year go back to paganism.

Paganism is basically a belief in the sacredness of nature and a reverence for the divinity that is reflected in everything in nature. Trees decorated with the idea of respect for sacred nature and divine power were one of the rituals of this belief. In countries such as China and Egypt, the pine tree is considered a symbol of immortality due to its evergreen leaves. In these countries, people also decorate pine trees to emphasize timelessness as they enter a new year. When commemorating their losses, they used wreaths made from the branches of the pine tree, symbolizing immortality.

decorating a pine tree for the new year

Today, the tradition of decorating a pine tree for the new year is a symbol of Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Gifts are placed underneath. The roots of this tradition go back to the Asian Turks’ belief in the “Tree of Life”. We have come full circle, dear friends, back to the Turks of Central Asia. So what is this Tree of Life?

Tree of Life, Pine Festival, Nardugan and Christmas

In their pre-monotheistic beliefs, the Turks considered the pine tree a sacred tree. They called Akcam the “tree of life” because it does not shed its leaves even in winter and remains evergreen. They have always used this wood in their weavings such as carpets and rugs.

tree of life
Tree of Life

I know that the sun has an important place in the beliefs of the ancient Turks. It was believed that day and night were always at war, and that at the end of the battle, day triumphed over night. December 22nd, when the nights get shorter and the day gets longer, is celebrated as Nardugan. Nar; sun, dugan; birth, Nardugan means “rising sun”.

In Nardugan, festivals were held in honor of the white-bearded Ulgen, the ruler of fertility, fertility, day and night, good and evil. On these holidays, families gathered, wore beautiful clothes and ate special food. They prayed to and thanked Ulgen for helping the day to triumph again, for keeping its light on the earth longer, for “giving them the sun again”.

Central Asian Turks and the god Ulgen
God Ulgen

Akçam, the beloved tree of Ulgen, was decorated so that their prayers and wishes would be accepted. Colorful rags were tied to its branches and gifts were piled next to it. It was believed that even the most intimate wishes would come true on this night. The god Ulgen was always dressed in rich red robes.

Santa Claus in his red fursuit, with his limp, the decorated pine tree, the presents!

Or is that too familiar?

The Huns migrated from Central Asia to Hungary and its environs, bringing with them the motifs of Shamanism. The most striking among them is Ayaz Ata. In Turkish, Altai and Central Asian mythology, “Ayaz Ata”, also known as the “God of Cold”, is a saint who appears and protects the helpless orphans and the hungry who are about to freeze in the winter frost. On December 22, in honor of the days getting longer and the winter days of suffering giving way to happiness, the tradition of decorating a white pine tree to make these festivities even more prominent has also become established.

turkish santa ayaz ata
Ayaz Ata

The Christian Tradition of Decorating Pine Trees

You see, New Year’s celebrations and the tradition of decorating trees for the New Year have nothing directly to do with Christmas. Even after the Christian faith began to spread, people could not give up some of their pagan and shamanic traditions.

The tradition of celebrating the sun and light, which comes from pagan beliefs, was accepted as the birth of Jesus at the Council of Nicaea in 350 AD, saying “Jesus is our sun”. Tree ornamentation was only introduced in the 16th century in Germany and then spread to France. A little digging into the roots of today’s Christmas celebration reveals this information. Although the figure of Santa Claus seems to have been popularized by the world-famous beverage company Coca Cola, it has been used by other companies before. As the saying goes, whoever does not know his history cannot write his future!

The most comprehensive information about the New Year tree and its history is provided by the valuable Sumerologist Muazzez İlmiye Çığin her work titled PINE FEAST.

noel baba coca cola

Dear Friends

When you do a little research, isn’t it obvious how small the world really is, how culturally intertwined societies are?
Whether they are near or far, it is all about ancient societies, ancient knowledge and its reflection in culture. The differences in interpretation don’t seem to matter much. Don’t you think that various cultures from the past also enhance our lives? It doesn’t really matter how much of it comes from where.
After all, the world is a big village. I think my mission as an artist is to beautify the world, to appeal to the souls, and I work relentlessly on this path. Because we all make life as beautiful as the color we add.

May all your wishes come true in the New Year. May your life already be more beautiful, happier and healthier.

With love,

Emre Ertürk 300 × 300 px 1

Sharing is Caring

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

From Emre Erturk's Pen...