Trees have always been important in the Nordic Mythology.
The whole world was built around the enormous ash-tree Yggdrasil.
Even mankind was created from this tree.
In the Old Norse Mythology the trees played a big part.
Under big trees sacrifice feasts were held and the victims were hang up in the trees.
Thing sessions were also held under trees.
A custom in the old days was to plant a "care-tree" at every farm.
Usually it was an ash-tree, a lime-tree or a birch that you planted.
The tree would with its strength protect the farm.
Sometimes you called the farm's tree for a "life tree".
It could be planted at the birth of a child and it showed the child's health.
If the tree wilted, or didn't grow well it showed that something was wrong with
the child as well. If the tree died - then you knew what soon was to happen to the child...
The tradition to plant a tree still exists, not only in Sweden.
There also was something called "death trees".
If a fruit tree blossomed in the autumn it was an omen that someone on the farm would die
Trees could heal as well. If it was a "healing tree" it usually looked unusual in some way.
Maybe it was growing in an unfamiliar way or was extraordinary knotty. If you wanted to get
well from an illness you could stick a plug, a rag or something into the tree.
That way the illness was transferred to the tree. Trees that could cure illness were often
remotely located, because you risked getting the illness back (or another one!)
if you came too close. Despite people being afraid of the tree, it was often used several times.
The most well known "tree ritual" in modern time is probably the Christmas tree.
But the Christmas tree indoors is a relatively new tradition. Outdoors, on the other hand,
the fir has existed for a long time. Firs (or sometimes pines) were placed at the porch when
the people of the farm had finished the Christmas preparations. The farm that was first with
the fir was supposed to be the first with the harvest when that season came!