We attended a whetting tree ceremony today up at the new house. Our builders have a tradition of nailing up a whetting tree on the highest point of the roof once the structure is completed. The tree branch is always an evergreen, perhaps indicating the feeling of solidity and permanence one gets once a roof is on a new house.
The whetting tree acknowledges the hard work of the builders and the trust and respect of the house owners toward the builders. All raise their drinks in a toast to a job skillfully done. Hence once the tree is nailed up, the whetting begins by the clinking of bottles and the downing of a cold glass of beer. In our case—Mexican beer flavored with a fresh-cut slice of lime.
Also known as the “topping off” ceremony the precise origins of the tradition are difficult to pin down, but builders agree the ceremony has been around for at least one hundred years. And it seems to be a world tradition, for I found mention of the ceremony in various countries including the U.S., Sweden, Mexico, and Germany.
Author’s note: Have any of you heard of this ceremony? Any stories to tell relating?