I’ve discussed the properties of wood, such as improving our well-being, in previous editorials. But did you know that wood also has an important role to play in success and good fortune? I’m not talking about profitable wood processing industries or attractive wooden buildings. I’m thinking about the saying “ta i trä”, which is used to prevent higher powers from raining down misfortune. How is it that wood has come to play such an important role in Swedish mythology? In fact not just Swedish, as “touch wood” and “knock on wood” in English mean more or less the same thing.
A quick search on the internet suggests there may be a number of explanations for this. Before Christianity took hold in Sweden, it was believed that spirits and gods lived in trees. If you wanted their attention and protection, it was only natural to knock on the tree trunks. Another theory is that people hit trees to create noise and frighten away evil spirits. Once Christianity had established itself, the wooden cross became a protective symbol. By holding a wooden cross, you received the protection you needed from God. In the middle ages, there was a vibrant trade in small pieces of wood that were claimed to come from the cross that Jesus carried. Whether there was any truth in this or it was an early example of false advertising, I wouldn’t like to say. Knocking on wood has also featured in many stories of people who have hidden in wooden buildings to avoid their enemies. Creating different coded knocks meant you could tell whether the person outside the door was a friend or foe. The acoustic properties of wood have thus proven useful throughout history!
And finally on this topic, don’t forget Amii Stewart’s hit “Knock on Wood”. It may not have much to do with the tall tales above, but who doesn’t need cheering up with a bit of disco these days?
Swedish Wood’s biggest event, the Wood Award Gala, was held on 2 December at Berns in Stockholm. The winner was announced with all due ceremony, and in this issue you can read more about the winning project and why the jury chose it. The diverse collection of nominated projects shows that wood construction is strongly positioned and making advances in all types of building. That is a development to be proud of.
Finally, I would like to wish every reader a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Stay safe and healthy everyone, so 2021 can be the year that social distance eventually turns into social closeness. Touch wood!