Celebrating the Holiday Season with a Real Christmas Tree is a long-standing tradition. Each year, 25 to 30 million American families celebrate the holiday season with a fresh, farm-grown Christmas Tree. Christmas Tree enthusiasts believe the aroma of a Real Christmas Tree is a strong reminder and symbol of life, family traditions, and the innocence of childhood itself.
Much like other crops provide food for the body, the aroma of a farm-grown Christmas Tree provides food for the soul.
Understanding the Legends and History
The use of evergreens as a symbol and celebration of life during Winter Solstice celebrations started in ancient Roman and Egyptian times. This practice evolved over the centuries to be incorporated in the celebration of Christmas in the Germanic areas of Europe.
The first recorded display of a decorated Christmas Tree was in 1510, in Riga, Latvia. Christmas Trees were decorated with fruit, cookies and candy that would later be shared among family members as gifts after the Holiday Season was over.
By the 1700’s, the tradition of celebrating the holidays with a Christmas Tree was widely used throughout Europe. Decorations included lace, ribbon, tin, food items and lit candles. Hessian mercenaries brought the tradition to the United States during the Revolutionary War.
In 1804, U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Dearborn, in Chicago, used evergreen trees in their barracks for Christmas. The popularity of the Christmas Tree then proliferated. In 1856, Franklin Pierce, our 14th President, brought the Christmas Tree tradition to the White House.
Since 1966, members of the National Christmas Tree Association have presented a beautiful, fresh Real Christmas Tree to the President and First Family. This tree is displayed each year in the Blue Room of the White House…no doubt filling the room with the aroma of life, family traditions and childhood innocence shared by so many others during the holidays.
Now in the 21st Century, the tradition of families choosing their centerpiece of holiday celebrations has become generational, inheritable and transferable. Many tree farmers and retailers across America witness this phenomena first-hand each year. “When a young couple marries and buys a Real Christmas Tree for their first holiday together in their own home, it makes for an interesting discussion,” says Diana Carpenter, member of NCTA and owner of Peacock Road Tree Farm in Laingsburg, MI. “They can spend all day discussing how ‘my family always chose a tree’, and ‘what my family always did on this day’ and so many other traditions that they must blend together into new ones.”
Lately, many in the Real Christmas Tree business report that people are showing a tendency toward more family involvement and tradition and many customers are returning to a real tree.
Along with legends and traditions, many myths about the Real Christmas Tree have become as attached as the stars on the top. One such myth is that all Real Christmas Trees come from pristine forests and therefore it is shameful to use a Real Tree instead of an artificial one. Of course, this is only myth… 98% of all Real Christmas Trees used each year are grown on farms as sustainable crops, just like corn or pumpkins.
Another myth is that Real Christmas Trees are a fire hazard. How many times have we all seen the burning tree on the local action news? In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, fewer than one-one thousandth of a percent (0.001%) of all Real Christmas Trees used each year are involved in a fire. That’s not a fire hazard! With proper care, Real Christmas Trees can maintain their freshness and moisture content throughout the holiday season.
Many people also complain that a Real Tree bothers their allergies. While it’s quite possible that a person may be allergic to tree pollen or even tree sap, it’s not as widespread as many believe. Judy Tidwell, on About.com reports that during the holidays, there “are many allergens that can cause reactions, although the Christmas Tree often takes the blame. The main culprits include mold, dust and food.”
A Real Tree itself is unlikely to produce pollen during December, but being outdoors for years in the field, it can collect pollens, dust, mold or other allergens. Of course, so can the artificial tree stored in the attic or basement.
Quick Tree Facts
- There are approximately 30-35 million Real Christmas Trees sold in the U.S. every year.
- An estimated 175,000 Real Christmas Trees are sold via e-commerce or catalogue and shipped mail-order.
- North American Real Christmas Trees are grown in all 50 states and Canada. Eighty-five percent (85%) of artificial trees sold in the U.S. are manufactured in China.
- Real Trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins such as lead.
- Consumers can locate the nearest tree recycling program by logging onto www.realchristmastrees.org or calling 1-800-CLEANUP.
- For every Real Christmas Tree harvested, up to 3 seedlings are planted in its place the following spring.
- There are about 500,000 acres in production for growing Christmas Trees in the U.S. Each acre provides the daily oxygen requirements of 18 people.
- There are about 21,000 Christmas Tree growers in the U.S., and over 100,000 people employed full or part-time in the industry.
- It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of average retail sale height (6 – 7 feet) or as little as 4 years, but the average growing time is 7 years.
- The top Christmas Tree producing states are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington.
- The top selling Christmas Trees are: Balsam fir, Douglas fir, Fraser fir, Noble fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine and White pine.
USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) and your local Christmas Tree professional.