In anticipation of the coming winter holidays, Russian environmental NGO Phoenix Fund has been feeding the public a downright hoax about the consequences of enjoying a live Christmas tree in the house. A Christmas tree has been the New Year symbol for many decades and a must-decoration of a house. One could sniff the gluey smell of pine through an open door of any Russian household. The Tree would bring joy to the family. Children would excavate their hidden presents from under the Tree, and some irresponsible adult would undoubtedly have had one too many during the New Year’s Eve and fall headlong into it. Shortly after the holidays, the Wife would have had enough of sweeping the fallen leaves around the tree every morning and the Husband would lift the Tree on his shoulders and carry it off to the nearest rubbish bin. There, our Tree would share the adversity with a dozen of others.
Thanks to both increased morale of citizens and neighbouring Chinese manufacturers, in the recent years live trees have been replaced with jolly plastic ones that even play Christmas music on demand. Moreover, laws have been issued that have made cutting trees illegal. Yet, every year some Russian hard-die Christmas tree fans still go to the forest, mainly in groups to cut trees for further sale. The demand for live trees, though lower, is still undying, regardless of the price.
This year, however, we hope not to lose many trees as an effective preventive measure has been discovered. According to the Russian NGO Phoenix, this season the trees in the forest will be sprayed with a German invention called ‘Hehstten’. The spray is absolutely harmless, Phoenix assures, except for when a sprayed tree has been cut and brought into a place with warm temperature. This is when the trouble starts, because the spray reacts to the temperature change and starts letting off a singular smell that, warns Phoenix, could be indeed unbecoming for a tender human hose.
Phoenix states that several patrol teams, including government rangers, public inspectors, youth organisations and volunteers will intensify raids around all the ‘tree-cutting’ areas; the Botanical Garden, Kedrovaya Pad and Barsovy Nature Reserves. Each team will be additionally equipped with enough Hehsttens so that no single tree is left out.
Environmental NGOs around Primorsky and Khabarovsky krais have appealed to the public to contribute to the forest by not buying any live trees that nobody would be able to enjoy anyway. The Vladivostok schoolchildren will be galvanized and organized to make ‘ Save the Christmas Tree’ leaflets.
‘Russian people take the New Year holidays very seriously’, – says Sergei Bereznuk, the Phoenix director. ‘We are holding this Ace and hoping that nobody is going to put the family peace at risk during this important time by bringing a smelly Christmas tree home. By the way, the patrols teams are for real’.
Translated by Tatiana Dmitrenko