If you've seen those odd trees with bottles hanging off of them around Central New York and elsewhere and always wondered what they're for, you're not alone.

The special trees usually come in two different varieties--the ones similar to the picture above from New Hartford, in which someone has built their own bottle tree out of wood, or other ones where folks have attached bottles to the branches of actual trees. They all have the same significance and apparently began as a tradition here in the Southern U.S. Here's the deal:

They're for catching spirits. Not the type you imbibe in on the weekends, but the supernatural type of spirits or ghosts. And the history of bottle trees has actually been traced back to much earlier times.

People even before the birth of Christ believed the spirits of the dead might exist in bottles. Here's a great piece with more about the history of bottle tree, with lots of photo examples of the different types.


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