Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘luck’

Photo: Suzanne’s & John’s Mom.
Have you ever wondered how this tradition got started?

Here is what I was able to find out about the custom of putting a tree on the roof of a building under construction.

Mark Vanhoenacker posted one explanation at Slate in 2013. “The tree is an ancient construction tradition. There are many such rites associated with a new edifice including the laying of foundation stones, the signing of beams, and ribbon-cuttings. But what’s particularly charming about the construction tree is that it isn’t associated with the beginning or the end of construction. Rather, the tree is associated with the raising of a building’s highest beam or structural element.

[The] name of the rite: the topping-out ceremony. It’s a sign that a construction project has reached its literal apogee, its most auspicious point. …

“When a new building reaches its final height, it’s not surprising we’d mark the occasion with a ceremony. But why celebrate with a tree?

“In fact, the first topping-out ceremonies didn’t use trees. In 8th-century Scandinavia sheathes of grain were the plant material of choice. But as topping-out ceremonies spread throughout northern Europe, trees were a natural evolution. …

“The ancient topping-out ceremony has survived mostly intact in this era of high-tech, high-altitude edifices. In the U.S., particularly on large projects, the final beam is often signed, and an American flag may accompany the tree skyward. The purpose of the ceremony — at least for shining skyscrapers — is usually couched in comfortably post-pagan terms: a celebration of a so-far safe construction site, an expression of hope for the secure completion of the structure, and a kind of secular blessing for the building and its future inhabitants.

“But superstition remains a part of the ceremony, especially on smaller projects. Elizabeth Morgan, an architect at Kuhn Riddle in Amherst, Mass., (and a childhood friend) told me that the general understanding among her colleagues is that the greenery may ‘symbolize the hope that the building will be everlasting.’ She also reports a vague sense among construction teams that ‘if you don’t do it, bad things will happen.’

“Her colleague Brad Hutchison noted that ceremonies often involve a pine bough, not a whole tree. He remembers a wintry Friday afternoon ceremony when a pine bough was mounted on the ridge beam of a recently framed roof. … ‘This is New England, so a lot of carpenters are/were sort of New Agey and took the tradition somewhat seriously,’ he said. ‘New-Agey superstition and carpentry/building go well together, I think.’ …

“What about outside of America? The tree tradition reputedly remains strong in much of northern Europe. … In Victoria, Australia, Kate Ulman, a farmer and blogger, recently attended a topping-out ceremony at her parents’ house. Their construction team had never been to a topping out but were familiar with the custom. This being Australia, in addition to a fir branch, they added—what else?—some eucalyptus. And there was cake.

“What about in Hong Kong, where skyscrapers are a revered form of public art, and the resulting skyline dwarfs even that of New York? I contacted Julia Lau, a Hong Kong architect. … Lau told me that despite Hong Kong’s British heritage, Western topping-out ceremonies are rare. The main celebration is Chinese-influenced and takes place at the start of construction, with a roast suckling pig. On the (auspiciously numbered) date of the ceremony, a stakeholder in the building will bow three times while holding three pieces of burning incense — a pleading for a ‘safe and smooth-sailing project,’ says Lau.”

Sandra and I walked by the building in the photo this morning around 6 (hot day). We’d been wondering about the custom. The topping-out here uses a branch from a nearby tree and is not actually attached to the roof but hoisted nearby to look like it. I hope it still brings luck.

More at Slate, here.

Read Full Post »

A couple weeks ago, a friend told Suzanne that not only is 2012 the lucky Year of the Dragon, it’s the Year of the Golden Dragon — in her view the luckiest year of all.

But a little web research suggests that something was lost in the translation. The Year of the Golden Dragon was Y2K, 2000.

Not to worry. All dragons are lucky. This is the year of the Water Dragon.

The Chinese Fortune Calendar site says, “2012 is Year of the Dragon and it will arrive on February 4, 2012. (Note: Chinese New Year Day is on January 23, 2012. The first day of 2012 Chinese Astrology Year is on February 4, 2012.) Many people must be eager to know if they will have better luck in the coming year than previous years. Here, we want to use Chinese Astrology Five Elements (Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth) theory to explain people’s fortune in 2012 and foresee what will be happening to them in the year of the Dragon.” Read more to learn how metal is the element associated with the Golden Dragon.

Moving right along, the 2012 Dragon site observes, “The fact that 2012 is a Water year is extremely important and demands consideration. That’s because Water nourishes the Dragon’s fixed element, Wood, giving this Dragon a big advantage over the rest of the breed when it comes to bringing good luck. The same holds true for accomplishment. This Dragon is actually going to realize some of those big dreams!” So that site maintains that the Water Dragon is the luckiest dragon.

Wikipedia: “In Chinese Taoist thought, water is representative of intelligence and wisdom, flexibility, softness and pliancy; however, an over-abundance of the element is said to cause difficulty in choosing something and sticking to it. In the same way, Water can be fluid and weak, but can also wield great power when it floods and overwhelms the land.” In our family, the attribute of not being able to choose something is called “The I-do-and-I-don’t problem.”

The Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation weighs in: “The dragon sign is associated with spring and the dragon water sign is likely to become a flowing river rather than a stagnant lake, which means that you need to begin 2012 off to a fast start as things are expected to happen early in the year. Hopefully we used some of the quiet time in the past year to plan your moves for 2012.” Uh-oh.

But given that Suzanne is in the jewelry business (Luna & Stella), she might be most interested to know that in China, jewelry buying is going berserk for the Year of the Dragon.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: