There are two broad types of trees: deciduous and evergreen.
By far the most common is deciduous, which covers all trees that lose their leaves (or other foliage) for at least part of the year.
Evergreen trees, as their name might suggest, keep their leaves or needles all year.
Some evergreens even bear fruit during the cold winter months, while their deciduous cousins lie bare and dormant.
The symbolism of the evergreen trees is rich and diverse.
As we move into the new year, the evergreen tree symbolism becomes more relevant.
Immortality & Eternal Life
Evergreen trees symbolise immortality and eternal life across some cultures.
We see it parcticed in the northern hemisphere where the famous Northen Pines and Firs are most prevalent.
The Northern Pine is celebrated and marvelled because they can do what other trees cannot – thrive during the coldest months.
Notice the word “thrive” there.
Whereas most species of plants and animals attempt only to survive the winter, evergreens are specifically tooled out to benefit from the lack of competition in the colder months.
There is specific symbolism here that relates to the dual state of consciousness and life in the universe.
Deciduous trees essentially die every winter, to be reborn again in the spring.
We can see this as symbolic of our physical bodies, which follow a straight line from birth, through life, to death.
We are then reborn, though not in the same physical body.
But the evergreens continue through the winter, surviving what the deciduous cannot.
It is also symbolic of the soul, which keeps going through thick and thin.
The “immortal soul”, as people have often put it, thrives during the “winter” that is the time between the death of our physical body and our delivery into the next one.
Thriving Through Hardship
We keep coming back to the word “thrive”.
It is the key to the success of the evergreen.
Deciduous trees deal with winter by shutting down entirely, just getting through it and waiting out the hardship.
They do this very effectively, and very few trees are unable to grow again come spring.
So for the evergreen to justify keeping its foliage during the colder months, and therefore spending energy during the time where there is the least incoming energy available, it must do more than survive.
It has to thrive, to finish winter in a better position than it started.
There is essential symbolism to this. Many people, when faced with a difficult period in their life, take the philosophy of the deciduous tree.
They do whatever they can to get through it, wait out the difficulties and trust that the spring will bring some warmth.
But perhaps we should take a needle out of the evergreen’s book, and instead of thinking you will never “get through it” we might choose to think positively.
If we are positive we can easily see “how we can turn this hardship into an opportunity”.
The evergreens certainly have.
They took a look at the snow, the frozen ground and the haunting quiet of the deep winter and saw not an obstacle, but an insatiable challenge.
It paid dividends for the evergreen species we see today.
Who knows? It might just work for you and I, too.