It is, without a doubt, the best time of year to be at Fernbank Museum. With 35 trees provided by consulates and cultural groups from around the world, three display cases and, of course, the Fernbank tree itself, it’s hard not to find yourself filled with holiday cheer.
Though it was difficult, I have narrowed down my top five favorites and would love to share them with you.
The Arab World Tree
I think this tree is one of the very best. It is decorated with traditional arts and crafts, including metal work, wood intarsia, straw weaving, embroidery and folklore figurines. As if those things are not cool enough, the star ornaments have fun facts written on them! Here are a few examples:
“Did you know? Hummus is the most popular appetizer in Arab cultures.”
“Did you know? The guitar and tambourine were introduced to the west by Arabs.”
The Japan Tree
I love how this tree remains so committed to culture. It is covered with origami cranes, which symbolize longevity and happiness. The best part? Ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted a wish. I’ll get started on that now.
The Philippine Tree
This tree just might be every girl’s dream come true. Dripping with pearl necklaces, gorgeous shells (which highlight the nation’s deep connection to the ocean) and to-die-for ribbons, the Philippine tree is definitely in it to win it. During the Christmas holidays, the country is adorned with the iconic, star-shaped lantern called a parol which symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem. The top of the tree is adorned with the beloved Belen, which depicts the nativity scene.
The Venezuela Tree
The Venezuela tree was one of the first to be decorated, and it has been a front runner in my book since I first laid eyes on it. I love that they used beautiful, rich colored ribbon to display their national colors. The best part? The plates are hand painted by members of Atlanta’s Venezuelan community! Venezuela celebrates the holidays much like we do in America; they listen to gaitas (holiday music) and prepare traditional dishes (hallacas, pan de jamón, dulche de lechoza). Two fun added traditions include eating grapes on New Year’s Eve and watching children open gifts brought to them by Baby Jesus.
The Norway Tree
This tree truly transports you to Norway. This tree combines its national flag, Norwegian dolls and handmade straw ornaments to make itself a true original. In Norway, families gather on Christmas Eve to open presents and sing carols around the tree, and Christmas Day is spent visiting family and close friends while sharing in desserts of rice porridge and cookies.
I will end on my favorite tree of them all: The Fernbank Tree. It has 22 magnolia blossoms, one for each year that Fernbank has been in existence.
This is just a small sampling of the 30+ trees currently on display at Fernbank Museum. You can experience the entire Winter Wonderland exhibition through January 11th. Click here to learn more.
Brittany Loggins is the Public Relations Coordinator at Fernbank Museum. She graduated from the University of Georgia in May 2013 and can be found on Twitter @bloggins1.