|Scientific name:||Pinus halepensis Miller|
|Common name||Aleppo Pine, Jerusalem pine|
|Hebrew name:||אורן ירושלים|
|Arabic name:||صنوبر الحلبي, Sanawbar el halab|
|Life form:||Phanerophyte, tree|
|Stems:||Up to 20m; crown rounded; bark silvery grey, becoming reddish brown and deeply fissured; twigs glabrous|
|Leaves:||Alternate, leaves ('needles')less than 1mm wide, mostly 6-10 cm long leaves in pairs|
|Inflorescence:||Male cones catkin-like clustered at the base of young twigs; female cones cylindrical to ovoid, 5-12x4cm, shining, green at first, ripening glossy red-brown when 24 months old|
|Flowers:||No petals and tepals|
|Fruits / pods:||Woody cone; seeds 7-8mm, wing c.20mm|
|Flowering Period:||March, April|
|Habitat:||Mediterranean maquis and forest|
|Distribution:||Mediterranean Woodlands and Shrublands|
Derivation of the botanical name:
Pinus, pitys, πιτυϛ, "a pine tree."
halepensis, Aleppo, حلب ['ħalab], a city in northern Syria.
In 1768, Miller gave the name Pinus halepensis to the same species (Miller, 1768), meaning the ‘pine of Aleppo’ (Panetsos, 1981), although this pine species is not native to the region of Syria.
The Modern Hebrew name for the pine, Oren, is mentioned only once in the Bible, in Isaiah 44, verse 14 (He planteth an ash - [ארן 'oren]. The Septuagint renders it, Πίτυν Pitun - 'Pine.'), while other trees like cedar (Erez), cypress (Berosh), oak (Alon) and terebinth (Elah) are mentioned frequently. It is not known to what tree the original Hebrew word Oren refers.
The Aleppo Pine Forest dominated by the Aleppo pine, Jerusalem pine, native to the Mediterranean region. In Israel, it grows on luvisols, tolerating terra rossa soils, but preferring brown and pale rendzinas.
Remnants of this type of forests can be found in Galilee, Samaria, Judea, Gilead, and Mt.Carmel. Nearly one third of the forests in Israel are "Natural Forests", which means "not planted by man". In Israel, the Aleppo pine, along with Pinus brutia, has been planted extensively by the JNF. The Aleppo Forest are often accompanied by shrubs and trees of maquis (low trees, c. 3–5 m height) and garrigue (tall shrubs).
The winter solstice (from Latin sol (sun) + stet (standing) is the date of the shortest day, when the sun appears to be at its most southerly.
Both hunter-gatherers and farming communities relied on stored food to see them through the long winters, for many cultures the return of the longer days meant that the plenty of spring was approaching and a reason to celebrate.
The ancients were certainly aware of the movement of the sun.
The Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah (also Chanukkah), is also linked to the solstice, being held on the 25th Kislev, three days before the new moon closest to the solstice. The celebration commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over Antiochus Epiphanes and the rededication of the Temple.
The ancient Egyptians celebrated the rebirth of Osiris on December 21st with his symbolic burial and rebirth as an infant at midnight, the priests bringing the image of a child out of his 'burial chamber'. The ancient Egyptians considered the palm tree to symbolize resurrection. They decorated their homes with its branches during the winter solstice.
The ancient Greeks' celebration followed the Egyptian model, with somewhat more in the way of bloodshed, a man being torn apart by women, representing the end of the harvest god Dionysos, with the promise of rebirth through the offspring of one of the women. The human sacrifice was later replaced with a goat, the women becoming mourners.
Rome originally had several celebrations near this time, including the Saturnalia on 17th December. By the year 50 BCE, the festival ran until the 23rd. This was supplemented by many other feasts, including the birth of gods and demigods such as Mithras, Apollo and Hercules. These different feasts were later merged by the Emperor Aurelian into the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun (Dies Natalis Invicti Solis), celebrated on 25th December.
The Druids held rituals in their sacred groves and performed fertility rites involving mistletoe, Germanic tribes burned their Yule logs and decorated their homes with evergreens, and Scandanavians lit bonfires and held vigils..
Trees were viewed as symbolizing eternal life. The trees joined holly, mistletoe, the wassail bowl and the Yule log as symbols of the season.
All predated Christianity. Many of these rituals are now associated with the 'Christian' festival we know as Christmas, indeed the date was chosen by the Roman church when they 'Christianised' the festival of Saturnalia.
Saturnalia was the feast at which the Romans commemorated the dedication of the temple of the god Saturn, which took place on 17 December.
Over the years, it expanded to a whole week, up to 23 December.
The Romans often cut down evergreens and decorated their "trees with bits of metal and replicas of their god, Bacchus [a fertility god]. They also placed 12 candles on the tree in honor of their sun god" and decorated them to pay homage to Saturn, the god of farming. The Romans also practiced many traditions similar to Christmas; though the "Christmas tree" itself is a later development in the celebration of Christmas.
In the Roman calendar the Winter Solstice fell in this period; in imperial times that event was celebrated in honour of Sol Invictus and put on 25 December by emperor Aurelian in 274, so after the Saturnalia.
There is one theory that says that the Aleppo pine is the original Christmas tree.
The ancient Greeks traditionally cut down an Aleppo pine every year, decorating it with flowers and ribbons in honor of the god Attis, a practice warned against by the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah Chapter 10, Verses 2-5).
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
They adorn it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so it will not totter.
The resin of the Aleppo Pine is used to flavor the Greek wine retsina.
Location: Jerusalem, Mount Zion, Dormition Abbey; Date Picture Taken: March 20, 2011
The Pine Cone is revered because it is the "fruit" or the result of the Evergreen. Since all people of all ages wish to live forever, the Evergreen and Pine Cone have been powerful, and ancient, symbols of Eternal Life, a fertility symbol.
Pagan gods of Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome were associated with the pine cone, and the staffs of the gods were often adorned with the pine cone.
In Greek mythology, the thyrsus a staff of giant fennel (Ferula communis) and topped with a pine cone, a composite symbol of the forest (pine cone) and the farm (fennel), is the attribute of Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of wine and fertility (corresponds to the Roman god Bacchus) and his attendants the Satyrs.
The pine cone geometry is a double PHI spiral—with a clockwise spiral whirling into the center—and a counterclockwise spiral whirling into the center on an opposite track (when these spirals are counted, the two sets are found to be adjacent Fibonacci numbers). Pine is the most evolved member of the Gymnosperms—Earth's first seed forming plants.
The geometry of the pine cone is the same as the pineal gland, master endocrine of human physiology that sits at the tiptop of our spinal column, actually an embedded eye with retina in the center of the brain. The Pineal Gland looks exactly like a miniature pine cone henceforth the symbolism.
Catholic religious tradition is intricately interwoven with pine cones. The largest pine cone sculpture in the world is found in the "Court of the pine cone" at the Vatican. Pine cone is also found upon the Pope's staff (and the Egyptian god Osiris). The Coat of Arms of the Holy See, found on the Vatican flag among other places, features a stacking of three crowns suspiciously similar in shape to a pinecone. In fact the pine cone is found all throughout the Vatican as well as Cathedrals as decoration.
The Bible itself alludes to pinecones and the Pineal Gland on several occasions, sometimes quite specifically. Beginning in Genesis, Jacob wrestles all night with God, and is commanded to change his name to Israel. The bible then purports the following: