The real Green Man

Felted Green Man

decoration of this year’s tree by the Minnesota Herb Society was inspired by
the twin themes of the Winter Solstice and the archetypal “Green Man” – both
symbols of rebirth, renewal, and regeneration. History tells us that the
Solstice has been a time of celebration for many millennia. “Solstice” –
literally a time when the sun stands still – is the darkest day of the year.
But it is also the day when the light returns, and Solstice festivities
celebrate the promise of spring and rebirth.

“Green Man” is an artistic rendition, in sculpture, wood carving, drawing, or
other medium, of a face surrounded by or made from leaves, vines, or other
vegetation. He is commonly seen as an architectural ornament on the walls of
churches and other buildings around the world, in many cultures and many ages.
In most traditions, the Green Man is a symbol of rebirth, representing the
cycle of growth beginning each spring.

Herb Society members have created Green Men (and Women) – and other ornaments
on the tree – from leaves, branches, vines, berries, and their imaginations,
using the flora of fall to decorate the symbols of spring’s promise of rebirth.
The Yule Log beneath the tree is another Solstice symbol. Long before it was
associated with religious observance, the Yule Log was given as a gift, often
decorated with greenery, symbolizing the spark of hope when ignited.

The solstice is a time
of quietude, of firelight and dreaming, when seeds germinate in the cold earth
and the cold notes of church bells mingle with the chimes of icicles. Rivers
are stilled and the land lies waiting beneath a coverlet of snow. . . . Then,
as the Solstice sun moves across the heavens, the new year wakens, the darkness
is dispelled, the days grow longer, and we prepare for new beginnings.

                                    ~ John Matthews

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of
A magical thing,
And sweet to remember:
“We are nearer to
Than we were in
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of

                                    ~ Oliver Herford

The Minnesota Herb Society wishes
you peace and the comfort of friends and family this holiday season, and the
promise of health and happiness in the new year.