Category Archives: Origins of the Christmas Tree

How to Pick the Best Holiday Tree

best holiday tree

The holiday season comes but once a year, and although picking out a real or living tree to last through all the tidings of comfort and joy may require a little more time and effort, you will find that the scent alone to be well worth it.

Here are some tips to help you select the best holiday tree.

Measure Your Space

Before you visit a local tree lot, take to the forest or purchase a living tree, be sure to measure the room in which you plan to put your tree. Measure the height of your ceiling, adding an extra 12 to 18 inches for the tree stand at the bottom, as well as a tree topper. Another good idea is to measure the room’s width.

Choose a Species

If your tried and true holiday tree species still works, great. If you want to try a different species there are a variety of trees available; 16 to be exact. Popular varieties include (but are not limited to) Balsam Firs, Douglas Firs, Noble Firs, Fraser Firs, Colorado Blue Spruce, Arizona Cypress, and White Pine. You can find information on each variety here. Remember: Not all species may be available in your area.

Check for Freshness

If you were lucky to get a tree permit – the forest service makes a total of 600 permits available annually – you know how fresh the tree is. Many pre-cut trees, on the other hand, may have been cut weeks earlier. Always check a tree for freshness by running a branch through your enclosed hand. The needles shouldn’t come off easily. You can also bend a branch backwards to see if it snaps back. If it doesn’t, the tree may be too dry and you may want to consider a different tree, or come back when the vendor’s next shipment comes in.

Don’t Neglect the Trunk

Once you’ve found the one, be sure to ask the vendor to make a fresh, second cut as well as trim the bottom branches. At home, immediately put it in water. If you don’t plan on putting it up right away, store your tree in a cool place (i.e., the garage), ensuring it is in water. When setting up the tree, make sure to place it away from any heat sources, such as vents and fireplaces.

The Stand Matters

It is highly recommended that you use a reservoir-type tree stand to keep trees fresh. Stands should hold a gallon of water. Amazon’s best selling tree stands include the center pin stand; the two-piece stand; the four-bold stand; and the “clamp” stand.

Caring for a Real Tree

Replenish water daily. Plain water is fine, and contrary to popular belief, temperature doesn’t matter and will not affect water intake. It’s perfectly normal for water absorption to vary from one day to the next. Ensure your tree stays fresh all season long by topping off the stand’s reservoir daily.

Responsibly Dispose Of

After the holidays, don’t throw your real tree away in the trash or set it on the curb. These trees are biodegradable, which means they can be easily recycled for mulch and other purposes. The city of Phoenix will collect trees at no cost to you and turn them into mulch. Residents can also drop off their trees to be recycled at the “I Recycle Phoenix” festival from 8am to 1pm Saturday, January 6, 2018.

If you have a live tree with the root ball still attached – often covered by a piece of burlap – it can be replanted outside after the holidays. Keep in mind that a live tree can only be used indoors for 1 to 2 weeks max. When planting in your Phoenix landscape, move the tree back outside for a week or two so that it can re-enter dormancy. Once this time has elapsed, remove the burlap and any other coverings on the root ball, place the tree in the pre-dug hole and backfill. Cover with mulch and water.

‘O Christmas Tree

Origins of Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!

Thy leaves are so unchanging;

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree! ~ Tom T. Hall

The Christmas tree is one of the most beloved, not to mention customary, traditions of Christmas. Each year, at least according to the Washington Post, more than 17 million real Christmas trees are harvested in the U.S. That said however the National Christmas Tree Association puts this number a lot higher.

In fact, it was found in a 2013 study that more than 30 million real Christmas trees were purchased. Even more astonishing is the fact that across all 50 states today there are approximately 350 million real trees growing on tree farms. So when and where did the tradition of the Christmas tree begin?

Origins of the Christmas Tree

It has been said that the tradition of the Christmas tree – which is a decorated tree associated with the holiday – developed in early modern Germany with predecessors dating back all the way to the 16th century in which families would bring in evergreen, pine, spruce or fir trees for decorating.

Speaking of decorating, I was shocked to learn that before the advent of electricity, families would place lit candles throughout the tree. Can you imagine? Especially since we have to be so cautious in placing LED lights on real trees due to the fear of the tree drying out and catching fire?

The tradition of placing a real tree in homes for decorating is said to have come to the U.S. in the late 1700s or early 1800s. The most popular claims to this come from cities such as Windsor Locks, Connecticut and Easton, Pennsylvania; both of which have German connections. Other accounts exist as well.

Since the early 20th century this tradition has evolved, making the Christmas tree a more common site in many cities and towns, as well as department stores. You can even see small pine, spruce, evergreen and fir trees dotting neighborhood landscapes throughout the valley.

Setting Up the Tree

Even the setting up and taking down of decorated trees are associated with specific dates throughout history. In more traditional times, trees weren’t brought in for decorating until Christmas Eve, and then removed no later than January 5th – it was considered bad luck to leave them up any longer.

Today, however, many families will put up a Christmas tree a week prior to Thanksgiving. Considering that holiday decorations seem to be appearing in stores even before Halloween, this shouldn’t surprise me, but it still does. In my home we still set up the day after thanksgiving and take down on January 5th.

Environmental Tree Issues

While there are more than 30 million Christmas trees sold in the U.S. every year, these trees are a renewable and recyclable resource, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. In fact, there are more than 4,000 local tree recycling programs.

You can also purchase living Christmas trees that can be planted in your own yard or donated to a local tree adoption center. With over 15,000 Christmas tree farms spread throughout all 50 states, this industry employs more than 100,000 people full or part-time, year round.

Happy Holidays!