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In many cultures and religions, trees of different species have filled important roles, and they are frequently appearing in myths and traditions from across the globe.
In Norse mythology the nine worlds of men, gods and giants are cradled among the branches and roots of the world tree Yggdrasil and the first man and woman are fashioned by Odin from two beached logs.
Another way in which the importance of trees in Swedish cultural history is made evident, is when we consider Swedish naming customs. Tree-related surnames such as Björk (birch), Ek (oak), Gran (fir), Lindgren (linden branch) and Löfgren (leaf branch) are among the most common in Sweden. The reasons for this can be many, but it has been argued that the tree-related names have their origins in the agricultural society of old, where many farms, estates and homesteads had their own "warden tree", which was considered powerful and bound to the well being of the homestead as a whole. The roots of this tradition can probably be found in old Norse beliefs in trees inhabited by guardian spirits (a common theme in many other mythologies as well). These "vörðr"-trees and their spirits (which have given the English language the words "wraith" and "ward") were tied to the lives of all those that inhabited the farm, man or beast, and it was important for them to stay in the tree's good graces. As the trees thus were revered and left to flourish, they often gained great size and age, and became synonymous with the farm which they belonged to and the people living there; a connection that eventually led to the naming custom. With the advent of the bourgeoisie and its perceived need to differentiate itself from the lower classes, a flight from the old -son and -daugher surnames were initiated and the "treenames" were seen as all the more attractive.
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