A New Holiday Begins at the Visitor Center

For 2020, the Visitor Experience team envisioned uniquely different holiday decor for the Visitor Center Christmas tree incorporating this year’s Peace on Earth theme. Using simple white paper, over the summer, nearly 1,000 snowflakes, peace cranes, and peace doves were folded by volunteers and the Bok Tower Gardens team. Towering 14 feet, the Visitor Center Christmas tree has been a signature holiday photo spot for thousands of visitors each year. Enjoy a sneak peek at the 2020 tree and learn more about the inspiration for its design. The tree is still a work in progress and will be ready on November 27.

An Expression of Peace and Hope
Humans have used both cranes and doves as symbols for many centuries. The dove is a symbol of peace and innocence in many cultures. Throughout all of Asia, the crane is a symbol of happiness and eternal youth. In Japan, the crane is one of the mystical or holy creatures and symbolizes good fortune and longevity because of its fabled life span of a thousand years.

An ancient Japanese legend promises that a crane will grant anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes a wish. After World War II, the crane symbolized peace through Sadako Sasaki and her story of perseverance. Diagnosed with leukemia after being exposed to radiation after the bombing of Hiroshima, Sadako became determined to fold 1,000 cranes in hopes of recovering good health, happiness, and a world of eternal peace. She completed 644 before she died, and her classmates folded the remaining 356 to honor her. A statue was raised in the Hiroshima Peace Park to commemorate her spirit.

Today this practice of folding 1,000 cranes represents a form of healing and hope during challenging times. After the events of September 11, as a gesture of support and healing, thousands of cranes were folded and linked together and sent to fire and police stations, museums, and churches throughout New York City. Traditionally, flocks of 1,000 cranes are offered at shrines or temples with prayer, based on the belief that the effort to fold such a large number will surely be rewarded. Chains are often given to those suffering from illness as a prayer for recovery and an expression of sympathy.

Bok Tower Gardens’ volunteers have folded cranes and doves to honor Bok’s legacy of promoting world peace and our hope for a season celebrating joy, hope, happiness, and peace.