“Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree; thy leaves are so unchanging…”
Or at least they are if you opt for a fake tree. A real tree tends to sit in the corner of the room, slowly turning brown and shedding pine needles all over the floor while the family argues about who has to drag it outside. The tradition of the Christmas tree is long and rich, and has resulted in some modern trees that run the gamut from breathtakingly beautiful, encapsulating everything that Christmas stands for, to just plain weird. Let’s take a tour around the world to take in the Christmas trees that are truly tree-mendous (sorry for the pun).
1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The 279-feet-high floating Christmas tree at Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was surrounded by fireworks during its inauguration on November 29, 2014. But even without the fireworks, it’s an eyecatcher.
2. Rockefeller Plaza, New York, USA
30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan is the home of US broadcaster NBC, and hosts one of the most recognized Christmas trees in the world. A tree has been placed there each year since 1933, and is usually a Norway Spruce. The 45,000 individual lights are switched on each year at an official ceremony, usually accompanied by a live concert (because nothing says Merry Christmas like Mariah Carey trying to sell a few more copies of her Christmas CD). Your own Christmas decorations are probably far less elaborate, but no less beautiful.Advertising
3. Trafalgar Square, London, UK
Christmas can be a time for gratitude, and this has led to the Christmas tree in London’s Trafalgar Square. The tree has been an annual gift from the people of Norway since 1947, in thanks for England’s help during WW2. Most trees selected for London are more than 60 years old, meaning that until recent years, the trees were actually growing during the war.
4. Galeries Lafayette, Paris, France
It would seem that the French prefer their Christmas trees to be more traditional, like the four-storey monster placed inside the posh Galeries Lafayette Department Store each year which you can see above. However in 2014, American artist Paul McCarthy was responsible for the massive inflatable “Christmas tree” installation in central Paris, which was criticized for its strong resemblance to a sex toy, and was later destroyed by vandals.
5. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany
There’s a beautiful juxtaposition with the placement of the annual Christmas tree at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. The Christmas tree is a universal symbol of goodwill towards all men (and of course, all women), while the Brandenburg Gate was once the setting for Nazi ceremonies.
6. Lego Christmas Tree, London, UK
Perhaps the ultimate in plastic Christmas trees, this gigantic Lego construction was put up at London’s St Pancras International Station, where the Eurostar leaves for Paris. You might complain about having to take down your Christmas tree and pack away the decorations, but pity the poor people who had to dismantle this thing.Advertising
7. Floating Christmas Tree, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
While Brazil might not have a white Christmas, it doesn’t stop them from having perhaps the most amazing Christmas tree of all. Constructed on a barge anchored in the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, the tree boasts more than 3.3 million lights.
8. St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City
Christmas is a holy time for many people, and so it’s fitting that the Pope can look out his window and see this 82 foot beauty, which is a gift from the German state of Bavaria.
9. Monte Ingino, Gubbio, Italy
Why have one tree when several hundred are more impressive? On the slopes of Monte Ingino, just outside of Gubbio in central Italy, individual pine trees are fitted with lights in order to create one massive tree that stretched more than 2000 feet to the top of the mountain. It’s actually switched on remotely by the Pope, using a tablet computer. Ah, technology.
10. National Christmas Tree, Washington DC, USA
The President of the United States has many stressful duties to perform, so the official lighting of the National Christmas Tree is probably a welcomed relief. Each President from Franklin D. Roosevelt onwards has officiated at the lighting ceremony.Advertising
11. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, USA
Maybe the most environmentally friendly Christmas tree is one that lives all year round and is merely decorated during the festive season. This tree is more than 160 feet in height, meaning it dominates the landscape no matter what the season might be.
12. Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia
Christmas in Australia takes place during the heat of summer, and Melbourne has been known to reach more than 40°C (106°F) during the festive season. This doesn’t stop Federation Square in downtown Melbourne from hosting a beautiful Christmas tree each year, with confused children melting in the heat as they look at representations of a white Christmas.
13. Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
The city of Madrid has opted for an environmentally friendly tree, since the tree in question is actually a glorious sculpture of metal and glass.
14. Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand
Unless climate change really kicks into gear, Bangkok is unlikely to experience a white Christmas anytime soon. That doesn’t stop the people of Bangkok from enjoying an annual gigantic Christmas tree, which is located at the entrance to the Central World Shopping Mall.Advertising
15. Comercio Square, Lisbon, Portugal
Europe’s tallest Christmas tree can be found in the Portuguese capital, and while the height varies slightly each year depending on the approved construction (since the tree is made from steel), it’s generally around 250 feet tall.
16. Murano Christmas Tree, Venice, Italy
Murano glassware has been prized for centuries, and the Venetian island has been the home of fine glass since 1291. So of course, why not make an entire Christmas tree of the stuff? The end result is striking, but perhaps a little too alien to be truly festive.
17. Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi, UAE
If you happen to lose a Christmas ornament, it’s no big deal. If any ornament is lost from the Emirate Palace Hotel’s tree, whoever is responsible might be facing jail time. It’s decorated with more than $11 million in jewelry and precious stones.
18. Dortmund Christmas Market, Dortmund, Germany
We’ve saved the biggest and the best for last. This tree uses an idea similar to the previously mentioned Lego tree, and is made of multiple smaller parts. This huge “tree” is in fact made of 1700 smaller pine trees, stretching some 150 feet into the winter sky.
Last Updated on August 15, 2018
7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day
Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.
Why is it important to train up our core strength?
There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.
This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.
Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.
In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.
One Exercise, multiple benefits
There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.
By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.
When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.
Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.
In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.
What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.
What will happen when you start doing planks every day
1. You’ll improve core definition and performance:
Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:
- Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
- Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
- Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
- Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.
2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column
Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.
Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.
3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism
Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).
4. You’ll significantly improve your posture
Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .
A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.
A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.
On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.
5. You’ll improve overall balance
Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!- but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.
6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before
Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shoulders, shoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.
7. You’ll witness mental benefits
Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.
How to hold a plank position
- Get into pushup position on the floor.
- Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
- Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
- Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
- Hold the position for as long as you can.
- Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
- When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.
Watch the video if you have any doubt!
Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:
How to improve your plank time gradually
- Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
- Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
- Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.
Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.
Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?
You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:
- After prolapse surgery
- Pelvic pain conditions
- Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
- Previous childbirth
Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.