Archive Sections: letters | music | index | features | photos | arts/lit | satire Find Iranian singles today!


Deforestation in the name of the Lord
Can you imagine the Christian world planting millions of trees each year instead of chopping them down?

December 17, 2004

Millions of pine trees are cut each Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ and festivities of the New Year. There are two things that wear out the serenity that an outside observer would expect from such holidays, the infusion of green and red plastic junks in every aspect of our daily affairs for at least 30 days, and the second is the scene of the cut pine trees only to watch them die and be tossed out to the dumpsters and the sidewalks in so many cities all over the world.

This is such a paradox to the annual Arbor Day celebration that is there to encourage everyone to plant a tree! Arbor Day tradition was introduced first time by the Persians centuries ago, and then spread throughout the world. During their Norooz celebration each March 21st Persians plant flowers in their yards and bring into their houses potted plants that later they transfer to their gardens or attempt to keep them alive indoors. In the Western world on the other hand millions of pine trees are cut down in the name of the festivities, a reminiscent of killing a sacrificial lamb as an offering to whatever we worship.

This essay here is not an anti celebration effort, it's only a reminder to the Green Peace, Nature Conservancy and other organizations who are there to protect the nature to ask them where in the world are there during the Christmas to protect the Earth from deforestations in the name of the lord? This certainly is not the first time that one raises this issue; that cutting pine trees during Christmas has absolutely no religious significance or cultural necessity. Why would they cut the trees and bring them in-door only to watch them die? People waste no time a day or two after the Christmas to toss the trees on the sidewalk for the trash collectors to haul them away?

In defense of this horrible tradition, the excuse we hear is that there are nurseries or tree farms that are in business for such a vast market -- they plant pines only to be harvested for Christmas, but what a waste indeed. Some true pioneer-spirited men venture in the cold of the winter into the nature and cut a beautiful pine tree to prove their celebratory spirits to their family members!

What if the Christian world stops cutting trees for the goodness of all mankind? As an alternative they start planting seedlings of fruit trees or for that matter any species of trees? Then the objective would be not to cut them dead, and instead sell the public dormant or live to be planted in someone's house, in a park or just be donated for planting. A true gesture of Christian spirit perhaps the way Jesus Christ would have wanted it to be I have no doubt. Where in the Bible does it say "Dou shall cut a pine tree every Christmas or harbor a dead tree in your living room?" Of course nowhere! This tradition started in Europe and we have read many stories about it. But it certainly is not one of the pillars of Christianity to celebrate Christmas necessarily with a dead tree in our living room. Habits can be changed.

There are millions of households around the world that buy cut pine trees and discard them a few days later (yes I know some of them turn into mulch, but that is as bad as if you say "old horses are killed to make dog food out of them"). Then there are all those offices that they waste so many trees every year. And to that add all the other ethnicities that do not even celebrate Christmas but just buy the cut trees and decorate it, in order not to give their children the minority complex! All in good will and sheer kindness of heart and celebratory spirit. Yet it also can be looked at as an annual chainsaw massacre of millions of trees any way you look at it.

Now imagine if during the Christmas everyone would buy a small tree only to be replanted somewhere, their own backyard, their neighbor's or in designated part of city parks. Think about all the apple trees, cherries, apricots, pomegranates, figs, or even non-fruit bearing trees, dogwoods, willows, ashes, and of course variety of pine trees. Wouldn't the world be a prettier place if each year millions of people planted small seedling of trees that eventually would grow to help us to get the most precious commodity in our lives, the Oxygen? Would it not be a prettier world with each family take a little time during holidays and go outdoor and designate a spot for a little tree seedling to be planted there later when spring arrives?

As for the Christmas tree, I am not so much for plastic either, the best approach is perhaps just to buy a 12 inch tall pine tree with the roots alive and in a pot and do your best not to kill it during the festivities and hopefully be able to carry it outside and replant it and set it free. At the minimum just decorate a tree outdoor and watch if from inside the house. Save the money for the kids' college funds.

Another alternative is to do what the President does each Thanksgiving -- he pardons a turkey. Each of us should pardon a tree during a Christmas and instead of buying a dead tree and watching its corps disintegrate under the Christmas lights, buy a tree seedling and either donate it or plant it in the ground. The worst that can happen is that the seedling will die and you break even! But what if it survives? Can you imagine the Christian world planting millions of trees each year instead of chopping them down?

I wish there was a spotted owl nesting in every pine tree in the tree farms so that the "environmentalists" and "animal rights activists" would camp near the tree farms preventing the farmers to cut those pine trees down! Where are the environmentalists when they are needed most? Well probably at their local Home Depot shopping for the biggest "dead" pine tree to be hauled to their living room and thinking what a pain in the neck it is when it comes time to haul it to the sidewalk in a week or so to be dumped...

So next Christmas think about buying a nice apricot or a persimmon tree or if you live in an apartment with a small balcony or patio, would you consider buying a dwarf apple tree that is grafted with three kinds of apples, plant it in a 50 gallon pot and you will be proud of yourself taking care of such beautiful piece of accomplishment for less than the price of a cut pine tree. Stop buying dead trees!

Happy Holidays everyone and let's help stopping of the chainsaw massacre of our beautiful pines trees every year.

"What does he who plants a tree?
......He plants cool shade and tender rain. 
And seeds and buds of days to be,
......And years that fade and blush again;
He plants the glory of the year,
......He plants the forests' heritage-
The harvest of a coming age; 
......The joy that unborn eyes will see-  
These things he plants who plants a tree."

Farrokh A. Ashtiani is the founder of

* *

For letters section
To Farrokh A. Ashtiani

* Advertising
* Support
* Editorial policy
* Write for
* Reproduction

Farrokh A. Ashtiani



Book of the day

The Legend of Seyavash
Translated by Dick Davis

Copyright 1995-2013, Iranian LLC.   |    User Agreement and Privacy Policy   |    Rights and Permissions