From early writings to current traditions, the significance of trees is vast. In many cultures trees are said to hold the spirits of our loved ones after they pass. Some cultures believe that the soul of a baby lives in a tree before it is born and in Korea, the souls of women who died in childbirth were believed to live in trees. No matter the century, the country, or culture, trees hold an important significance that cannot be overlooked.
For hundreds of years planting a tree in honor of a loved one’s passing has had great significance in Judaism. The tradition is time honored, symbolic and heartfelt. When a person dies during a lifecycle event a tree will be planted in their honor. Planting a tree of the dearly departed perpetuates the life and legacy they left behind.
The tradition has grown worldwide in other religions such as Christianity where it has been encouraged to plant trees in Israel to reinvigorate the land. The Jewish National Fund (JNF) restoration projects in Israel now supports successful farming endeavors. Today millions of trees cover the hills that were once a desert lacking in forestation. You can participate in the planting of trees for your own reason and can find a place to do it in your own place of residence. Participating in reinvigorating country sides whose trees have been demolished not only helps breathe life into the world, it can also represent the births and deaths of our loved ones.
The mystery of trees that have planted themselves into our stories as an important part of life and death. Various cultures both ancient and current believe in the significance of trees at the time of mankind's birth. The Greeks believed that the first man was born out of an ash tree while in Siberia men and women were thought to have been born separately from a larch and a fir.
Trees are heavily revered and certain ones represent a feeling or a time in life. The Willow represents sorrow. That is no surprise due to the beautiful leaves that hang down. Oaks symbolize strength and power, and many Oak cults existed including the ancient druids.
On Tu B’Shevat in Palestine, trees were planted for children born during the previous year. A cedar is planted for the boy and a cypress for the girl. Upon their wedding branches from both trees are used to the chuppah (canopy) for the ceremony.