April is the month in which we celebrate Arbor Day, an annual observance that recognizes the vital role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care. It was first observed as a holiday in 1872 in Nebraska, but tree planting is a ritual as old as humans have been alive.
The tree is seen throughout history and literature as the symbol of life itself. In the words of J. Sterling Morton, a journalist and the founder of Arbor Day, “The cultivation of flowers and trees is the cultivation of the good, the beautiful and the ennobling in man, and for one, I wish to see this culture become universal.” He and his wife were settlers in Nebraska and both were lovers of nature; their yard was full of various trees, plants and flowers.
When J. Sterling became the editor of the area’s first newspaper, he never missed a chance to spread his enthusiastic love for trees of all types. His audience was receptive because fellow settlers missed trees and needed them to help provide a windbreak for their crops, building materials and shade for livestock and people. As we all know today, that without trees it would be hard for any living thing to breath; trees oxygenate our Earth.
In 1872, the Board of Agriculture accepted Morton’s proposal to set aside one specific day (Arbor Day) to plant trees; they created contests with prizes awarded to citizens who planted the most trees. It was an overwhelming success and on April 10th over a million trees were planted in Nebraska! There are now Arbor Day festivities observed across the United States, and in many other countries of the world.
Ways to Celebrate Arbor Day in Your Community
If you need inspiration, The Arbor Foundation has a great website with a list of ideas that include…
- Hold an Arbor Day ceremony and honor good stewards in your community.
- Organize a Big Tree or Oldest Tree search within your community.
- Plant a tree.
- Write a story, produce a play, or present a skit about trees.
- Choose a public park or downtown area to clean up.
- Read a book about trees, such as The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.
- Schedule classes on tree pruning, tree selection, tree identification and tree planting.
- Sponsor a poster contest, poetry contest or tree trivia contest.
- Volunteer with a local tree-planting organization.
Celebrants Can Help
Celebrants love to celebrate life, including trees; at my graduation in 2014, a group of us enjoyed an afternoon ceremony in which trees were honored and hugged with great love and respect.
One of the first things a celebrant can help you with is to create sacred space with care and intention; then you may be asked to think about your favorite tree and what it has meant to your life. And what you can do to ensure that this tree remains alive and healthy for generations to come? How can you honor it and give it special recognition on Arbor Day this year? Skilled in the art of ceremony, a celebrant can help you create a ceremonial ritual that will fill your heart with love, and your soul with hope. Visit www.celebrantinstitute.org to find a celebrant in your area. Happy Spring!
About the Celebrant Foundation & Institute
The Celebrant Foundation & Institute (CF&I) is the nation’s preeminent online educational institute that teaches and certifies people as modern day ritual and ceremony professionals called Life-Cycle Celebrants®. Founded in 2001, the educational nonprofit organization headquartered in Montclair, NJ, is a member of the International Federation of Celebrants. To date, the CF&I has graduated nearly 900 Life-Cycle Celebrants® who preside over 20,000 ceremonies each year throughout North America, Asia and Europe. To learn more about the CF&I, visit www.celebrantinstitute.org
Watch January 2017's Weddings with Zita (Zita Christian) with featured guest Elisa Chase, CF&I Academic Manager, discussing Ceremony, Rituals and the Celebrant Foundation & Institute.