Meaning of Arbor Day and Ways to Celebrate Trees

Meaning of Arbor Day and Ways to Celebrate Arbor Day

Last Updated on June 17, 2021 by Avia

Celebrating the Meaning of Arbor Day: Arbor Day is fast approaching and it lands on the last Friday of every April.  A buddy of mine used to sing a little ditty this time of year that went something like, “April is here, birdsong is clear. Time to thank bees and hug a few trees!” I guess lots of people are getting into the green vibe because recently, I’ve gotten a bunch of emails asking, “what the heck is Arbor Day?” Fair question.

The meaning of Arbor Day deals with the recognition and celebration of trees.  The word arbor describes trees…particularly how tree branches intertwine to create luscious frameworks and tapestries in our lives. But the term mostly deals with trees. For example, arboreal animals (like monkeys) are those critters who hang out in trees.  You get the idea.

I love this time of year because it heralds the return of life (at least in the Northern hemisphere). As this month celebrates both Arbor Day and Earth Day, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about the meaning of Arbor Day. Now IMHO, Mother Earth and her glorious trees should be celebrated EVERY day, you know that, but there’s nothing wrong with devoting extra-special attention to the majesty of Nature on dedicated days.

For those of you who have been reading this website for a while, you know I’m manic about Mother Nature, and equally, twitterpated about trees. Nature provides us with so many life lessons, and her trees are perhaps some of the most profound symbols and signs that elegantly illustrate the cycle of life on all levels.

Meaning of Arbor Day and Ways to Celebrate Trees
Meaning of Arbor Day and Ways to Celebrate Trees

“The best way to plan for the survival of our future is to plant a tree today.”


Background, History, and Meaning of Arbor Day

Ah, writers, you gotta love ’em for their creativity and ways of wielding the mighty pen. To explain, Arbor Day is traced back to writer and journalist, Julius Morton, a native New Yorker who first dared to start the arbor movement in the 19th century. He was passionate about planting trees and he pushed to get a national day of recognition for trees. Thankfully, he (eventually) succeeded in his mission after he became the US Agricultural Secretary under Pres. Grover Cleveland.

The first official Arbor Day was recognized in Nebraska in 1874 and got more popular throughout the states in the following years. On April 22, 1885, Arbor Day was deemed a designated national holiday (on Julius Morton’s birthday, rock on!), and an estimated one million trees were planted on this first recognized arbor holiday. Thank you, Julius!!

Arbor Day Meaning and Ways to Celebrate Trees
Arbor Day Meaning and Ways to Celebrate Trees

Why Trees Are a Big Deal

The reasons to celebrate trees, Earth Day or Arbor day are righteous. Trees are essential to the survival of this entire planet. These beauties absorb carbon dioxide and convert it to oxygen, which is pretty freakin’ essential to our survival as a species (and the survival of every other species on the planet). To hit this fact home, if there were no trees, all life would be instantly asphyxiated.

Trees also serve as filters for rain. When rain falls, trees absorb the moisture in their bodies and produce runoff that flows into rivers and streams. If it weren’t for trees and their capacity to filter out contaminants in water, our streams wouldn’t be nearly as clear and pure as they are now.

Ways to Celebrate the Meaning of Arbor Day and Honor the Mighty Tree

I’ll bet my buttons there are as many ways to celebrate Arbor Day as there are trees on this planet …which by the way is estimated to be about 3 trillion – halleluiah! Let’s boost that statistic with my first tip to celebrating Arbor Day…

Plant a Tree: Okay, yeah…I can hear it now…”Well, DUH, Avia!” I know it’s an obvious action to plant a tree on Arbor Day. However, it does make a difference, and you can plant with style and ceremony to make the act more impactful. Consider devoting a tree to a loved one in their memory. Or invent a ritual around a tree planting that signifies new growth and renewal. Trees are symbolic from roots to branches. Dig into this symbolic energy while you are planting a tree (or many trees) by seeing your own soul roots nourished by the soil, and visualize your soul soaring to the light of the sun just as the tree reaches out to the light.  You get the idea.  Plopping a tree in the ground is one thing, but making an event that is profound and symbolic gives it more meaning. 

Arbor Day Meaning and Ways to Celebrate Trees
Arbor Day Meaning and Ways to Celebrate Trees

Repurpose and Reinvent: This is a great time to get gritty in rummage yards or discard piles to find pieces of wood you can repurpose for nature-centric projects. What better way to honor trees than to restore old cuts of wood into renewed pieces of art? I think this is a lovely idea, and if I had one wood-crafty bone in my body I’d be down with building a birdhouse or a bat box in a NY minute.  The opportunities are endless for salvaging wood to give back to Mother Earth. For example, think about using reclaimed wood to build a beehive as a divine Arbor Day project. The trees will honor your efforts, and the bees will thank you for helping them pollinate our beautiful earth!

Recycle: Not just on Arbor Day, but every day – please recycle.  Paper products are made at the sacrifice of the pulp of trees. Recycling paper products is a way to show you care, give back to Nature, and honor trees for the life-giving giants they are. Further to this point, you can show your adoration for the arboreal kind (trees) by being conscious of consumption and waste. Be mindful of sustainability and always go for eco-friendly options whenever possible.

At the end of the day, trees are amazing and resilient, but they need our help to make the earth a better place for their survival. As mentioned, our own survival is dependent upon the life of trees.   These are magical beings on our land, and they deserve our gratitude and recognition of the meaning of Arbor Day and every day.  All I’m saying is just be mindful of eco-friendly ways to honor trees and keep our precious planet pristine.  Wishing you all a happy Arbor Day!

Mighty brightly,

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