Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cedar Trees in Cemeteries

If you ever wander in old cemeteries, and I know many of you do, you are bound to see some cedar trees.

The tradition goes back to the early days of the United States and even earlier  in Europe.  Cedar trees were not always used, but some type of evergreen trees were planted because they were a symbol of everlasting life.  Some Cherokees believed that cedars contained powerful spirits, including the spirits of the departed buried beneath them.

Perhaps because they are known as burial trees, there are many superstitions that surround cedars.  My grandmother told us in no uncertain terms that if we planted a cedar tree, we would die when it was large enough to shade our graves. Some others are:

Never transplant a cedar tree; it will bring bad luck.

If you transplant a cedar and it dies, you will die shortly.

Planting a cedar tree in your yard welcomes poverty.

Some say Christ was crucified on a cedar tree, and will bring bad luck if you burn it.

If a cedar tree comes up voluntarily, don't cut it.  As long as it flourishes, your family will have good health.

I wonder if another reason they were popular is the fact that cedars have a shallow root system and will grow where many other trees will not. 

Drive by any cemetery and you will be able to divide the "old" part from the "new" by the presence of cedar trees.