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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 December, 2004, 10:45 GMT
What's 'behind' the Christmas tree?
By Susannah Cullinane
BBC News

The Tate Britain tree
Some trees are 'more equal' than others

Christmas is coming and the great, the good and the hoi polloi are busily hanging baubles from their Christmas trees. So, just what does your decorative style reveal about you? Send us a picture of your tree to find out.

Tony and Cherie Blair's Christmas tree has arrived at Downing Street and is waiting to be lit at the traditional children's party later this week.

Meanwhile, less statesman-like offices, shops and homes are all being lit up with the fairy lights of more modest firs as the Christmas season gets into full swing.

Given the amount of time people spend dragging decorations from the loft and carefully wrapping presents to put beneath them, the finished tree could well say a lot about its owner.

The BBC News website asked psychologist Ingrid Collins to give her thoughts on a selection of those already on display.

Later this week she will be psychoanalysing readers' trees. Send a picture of your home or work fir in using the link below.


Delivered by horse drawn cart, the Bush Christmas tree has a different theme every year, with ornaments from all 50 states.

Laura and George Bush with White House Christmas tree
The theme of the White House tree is the first lady's prerogative

"I suppose it is no surprise that the family of the man who holds the most powerful position in the world should have the most huge, well established and powerfully busy-looking tree," says Ingrid.

"Opulence is expressed in the gold beaded streamers and some of the decorations.

"The rest of the many baubles are in other primary colours and together with the other interesting decorations it does show imagination.

"The principle here seems to be 'more is more'.

"It's clearly a demonstration of immense wealth and resources."


Found deep inside BBC Television Centre, this tree is one of many the broadcaster has in place for the season.

"Oh dear," says Ingrid . "This is a sparse looking, scruffy and emotionless tree. It has a corporate 'budget' look.

Christmas tree at 'Stage Door' BBC Television Centre
The BBC tree appears to have a receding pine line

"It looks as if someone has been sent a memo to provide this, rather than set it up willingly.

"It is natural, yes, and reveals some connection to the natural world, but its straggling branches are hung with equally straggling lights and the red decorations seem standard issue.

"There are no representations of presents, even artificial ones. This does not seem to fit the image of a major artistic organisation.

"I wonder if the BBC tree at one of the public entrances is more impressive?"


Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles helped young cancer sufferers decorate the Clarence House tree.

"This is a healthy-looking, well cared for tree. People choosing this kind of tree have a sensitivity for the land and the natural world.

Prince Charles and young cancer sufferers decorating Christmas tree
A Queen's Dragoon Guard deployed his sword to adorn the royal tree

"There is not a decoration overload, implying that the owner has a rich internal life and does not need too much of an outward show because of modesty perhaps, or security of status.

"What decorations there are seem mainly gold and opulent. The hand crafted stars are in rich red, white and gold, hinting that the owner references his good taste internationally and is used to luxury.

"The lights, shaped in the natural form of green candles are a reminder of the spiritual light, the joy that is the Christmas promise."


Designer Matthew Williamson decorated the Victoria and Albert Museum's tree with over 1000 pink velvet and chiffon roses adorned with gold birds, dragonflies and butterflies.

"Choosing to decorate the tree with a romantic colour scheme of pink and white is more reminiscent of spring than Christmas - as are the tiny flowers arranged as if growing around the base," says Ingrid.

Matthew Williamson with Christmas tree
Mathew Williamson went with a Christmas design one could wear

"As a result, optimism for the generous reawakening of the earth is implied.

"This tree is laden with luscious and luxurious blooms, suggesting a loving and giving nature.

"It is the appropriate size and style for the building, showing good sense of design. The lights are plentiful and hundreds appear to shine around its branches so that its spirituality is expressed in the abundance of these many points of light.

"Its commercial subplot is stated in the repetition of its initials in rich golds.

"No presents again suggests the corporate organisation rather than family function of this tree."

Would you like your tree to be psychoanalysed? Send us a picture of it, using the link below.



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