The Sharing Tree in Eden Prairie was lit over the weekend to cheers and comments of “it’s beautiful” from the small crowd that braved the sleet and snow to attend the second annual lighting celebration.
The Eden Prairie Historical Society began the Sharing Tree tradition last year as a way to celebrate everyone in Eden Prairie, and Kathie Case, the historical society’s president, believes Eden Prairie is the only community that does something like this.
Although the lighted tree may look like a traditional Christmas tree, it is meant for everyone. On its boughs hang ornaments that represent different cultures, religions and groups within Eden Prairie. And that’s the point of the tree – it’s meant for everyone to enjoy, not just those who celebrate Christmas, Kathie Case told Eden Prairie News prior to the lighting celebration on Saturday, Nov. 30.
“This is a celebration of so many different people from different walks of life from Eden Prairie, different religions,” Eden Prairie Mayor Ron Case said during the celebration. He explained that the concept of a live tree, like a Christmas tree, is believed to go back thousands of years ago, predating “any one religion that has grabbed onto it.”
“And as you know, it’s associated with the winter solstice and it represents the darkest day turning the corner and going into optimism and light,” Ron Case added. “So the future of Eden Prairie is bright and so wonderful ahead of us and this is what this represents for all of us tonight.”
The tree, which stands outside the historic Cummins-Phipps-Grill House, 13600 Pioneer Trail, in Eden Prairie, will be lit 24 hours a day throughout the month of December.
People and local organizations are encouraged to bring an ornament to hang on the tree. At the end of the month, Kathie Case will save the ornaments for families or groups to take back or she’ll hang them to hang on next year’s Sharing Tree, she said.
The Sharing Tree lighting celebration, held outside Cummins-Phills-Grill House on Saturday, Nov. 30, featured cider and cookies, Santa and the Eden Prairie Players who portrayed Martha and John R. Cummins, the original owners of the historic home, and their house guest, teacher Jesse Cleland, who taught at Eden Prairie’s Wolf School around the year 1905.