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Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust hopes Christmas will inspire people to connect with nature




It comes around every year, but the festive season is looming somewhat larger in many people’s thoughts this year due to the uncertainty as to whether we will be able to safely spend time with our families, writes Erin McDaid, of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.

While family and religious celebrations, are at the heart of Christmas for most people, nature is also central to imagery linked to this important of seasonal celebrations.

I’m sure robins ­— the nation’s favourite bird ­— feature so regularly on Christmas cards because their red breasts are one of the few splashes of natural colour to be enjoyed at a largely bleak and dreary time in nature.

Blackbird. Photo Peter Olko (43149896)
Blackbird. Photo Peter Olko (43149896)

Other species associated with the season include mistletoe and holly. Their seasonal associations have their roots in celebrating nature and date from a time when we were also much more in tune with the rhythm of the seasons.

Imagery more closely linked to the season, such as snow covered villages, snowflakes and icicles also seem to endure, despite the rarity of any real snow or cold weather at the turn of the year.

For decades, most of us have spent the long winter months cossetted and cocooned from nature inside our homes.

Holly. Photo: Scott Petrek (43149898)
Holly. Photo: Scott Petrek (43149898)

I would imagine many of us will spend much more time outdoors this winter as we try to find ways to spend time with our family and friends and prevent ourselves from going stir-crazy indoors.

While we still are restricted in what we can do, we should make the most of the things we are allowed to do.

Spending time in local green spaces and parks should be at the top of the list.

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. (2682719)
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. (2682719)

It may not be possible for us to get together indoors, so why not use natural spaces as places where we can connect with people as well as nature?

In 2020, a year when so many have recognised the value of nature, perhaps we should seek to make nature more central to our seasonal celebrations.

One way to do this is to look for natural inspiration and for opportunities to bring a little of the outside in.

Why not bring a small branch of holly inside instead of buying a commercially produced wreath? While there may be less opportunity for kissing under the mistletoe this year, you could use its bright green leaves to represent fresh hopes for the future rather than fertility!

A simple stroll on a nature reserve could be just the tonic to ensure you are refreshed to face the many challenges we are all learning to live with and while you are out and about keep your eye out for some of the icons made famous in the 12 Days Of Christmas song.

You will be hard pressed to spot any lords ‘a leaping’ and any turtle doves will have long returned to Africa for the winter, but you have every chance of seeing a ‘Colly Bird’ ­— otherwise known as a blackbird. There’s also an outside chance you will spot a partridge or a pear tree, though you are unlikely to see them at the same time!

While you’ll need to wrap up warm and a flask is advised, some well-planned time spent in nature during this festive season has the potential to warm your heart. ­



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