What's with the branch?
December 1, 2006 6:41 AM   Subscribe

Why does a building under construction have a leafy branch tacked to the peak of the first roof joist over the building entrance?

On the way to work each day, I pass a construction site. I've noticed that a leafy branch was tacked to the joist above the door. My husband says it is some tradition but he doesn't remember the meaning or where it started. Can you fill me in?
posted by onhazier to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Ah! I finally remembered what my Dad used to call this. My Googling for tree, construction, etc. wasn't doing much good. It's called a "topping out" ceremony, and it's done on all sorts of buildings.
posted by MsMolly at 6:53 AM on December 1, 2006

The term you are looking for is topping out (wikipedia).
posted by jessamyn at 6:54 AM on December 1, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you!
posted by onhazier at 7:25 AM on December 1, 2006

OMG, I've been an architect for 20 years and I never knew about that! Or rather, I thought it was just construction crews bein' goofy...
posted by DenOfSizer at 7:50 AM on December 1, 2006

That's how ancient rituals start. Someone's long-forgotten ancestor was just bein' goofy, but it filled a social and emotional need and people kept doing it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:30 AM on December 1, 2006

Thanks for asking this - I just saw this on my brother's house-building blog and was curious to learn more.
posted by mikepop at 9:03 AM on December 1, 2006

Typically an entire evergreen tree is used at the uppermost member of the building or on the construction crane when the framing is complete. It is primarily used on larger steel framing construction projects.
posted by JJ86 at 11:27 AM on December 1, 2006

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