PM Tony Abbott Starts Christmas Tree Tradition In Australia

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By Athena Yenko | December 20, 2013 4:48 PM EST

Prime Minister Tony Abbott expresses his desire to pioneer a Christmas tree tradition by which all succeeding prime ministers will put up the same Christmas tree each year, with collected gifts for charity under it.

For 2013, Abbott had a "Wishing Tree" assembled in his office at the Parliament House. He was the very first prime minister to have had done this. At present, there were more than 500 gifts under the tree all given by guests during Christmas functions hosted by Abbott. Kmart had recently donated its gifts.

 "At the end of my term as prime minister, I will be donating the tree and decorations to my successor who I hope will maintain this 'Wishing Tree' tradition," he wrote.

If the succeeding prime ministers will observe Abbott's Christmas tree tradition in the years to come, then it will enriche the already interesting history of the Christmas tree in Australia.

According to historical accounts, the Christmas tree in Australia was first called Pohutukawa. The European immigrants were the very first people to have assembled Christmas trees in the country. Their first Christmas trees were decorated with vibrant red ornaments and bright green foliages. In time, they incorporated Christmas bells, bushes and orchids.

The birth of Christ was drawn from the Australian Christmas Bush tradition as told by the film titled, "Bush Christmas," in 1947 and the film, "Miracle Down Under."

Do You Know?

Southwest Australia has the most extraordinary plant called Nuytsia floribunda or commonly dubbed as the Australian Christmas tree. The plant measures 15 meters high. It blooms from late December to January with its vibrant and sweet-scented golden orange flowers packed in panicles.

Some years ago, the Australian Christmas tree created a panic across the country as its root was found to be attacking the communication cables across Western Australia.

Australian Christmas tree penetrated the plastic envelope, reaching the electrical copper wires. Its roots form a deadly ring surrounding the underground cables.

The problem created by the Australian Christmas tree was so rampant that telecommunications companies admitted that the several hundred kilometers of communication cables would likely be attacked between 40 to 50 times per year.

The Australian Christmas tree was so unyielding that even the fiber optic cable cannot resist the attack of the tree. Hence, more expensive and thicker underground cables were used. 

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