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Christmas tree

Glade jul by Viggo Johansen (1891)
Young woman decorates the Christmas tree, painting by Marcel Rieder (1862-1942) from 1898

A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine, or fir associated with the celebration of Christmas. An artificial Christmas tree, usually made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), is a man-made replication of such a tree and is often used instead of a live tree in order to retain the Christmas spirit and decorations without the care and maintenance of a cut tree.

The tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts, or other foods. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles which were ultimately replaced by Christmas lights after the advent of electrification. Today, there are a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garland, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the angel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity.[1][2]

The custom of the Christmas tree developed in

  • Christmas trees at DMOZ
  • "Christmas Tree Survives War, Hiroshima Bomb".  
  • "History of the Christmas Tree". 
  • Care of Holiday Evergreen Trees And Boughs from the New York Botanical Garden

External links

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  2. ^ a b Jones, David Albert (27 October 2011). Angels.  
  3. ^ a b "History of Christmas Trees".  
  4. ^ - Office de la Culture de Sélestat - The history of the Christmas tree since 1521
  5. ^ a b Ingeborg Weber-Kellermann (1978). ]Christmas: A cultural and social history of Christmastide [Das Weihnachtsfest. Eine Kultur- und Sozialgeschichte der Weihnachtszeit (in German). Bucher. p. 22.  
  6. ^ Daniel J. Foley (1999). The Christmas Tree. Omnigraphics. p. 45.  
  7. ^ a b Greg Dues (2008). Advent and Christmas. Bayard. pp. 13–15.  
  8. ^ a b Sheryl Karas (1998). The Solstice Evergreen: history, folklore, and origins of the Christmas tree. Aslan. pp. 103–04.  
  9. ^ Helen Haidle (2002). Christmas Legends to Remember'. p. 119.  
  10. ^ Debbie Trafton O'Neal, David LaRochelle (2001). Before and After Christmas. Augsburg Fortress. p. 22.  
  11. ^ Fritz Allhoff, Scott C. Lowe (2010). Christmas.  
  12. ^ The story, not recounted in the vitae written in his time, appears in a BBC Devon website, "Devon Myths and Legends", and in a number of educational storybooks, including St. Boniface and the Little Fir Tree: A Story to Color by Jenny Melmoth and Val Hayward (Warrington: Alfresco Books 1999 ISBN 1-873727-15-1), The Brightest Star of All: Christmas Stories for the Family by Carrie Papa (Abingdon Press 1999 ISBN 978-0-687-64813-9) and "How Saint Boniface Kept Christmas Eve" by Mary Louise Harvey in The American Normal Readers: Fifth Book, 207-22. Silver, Burdett and Co. 1912.
  13. ^ "Christmas tree".  
  14. ^ Philip Lazowski (2004). Understanding Your Neighbor's Faith. KTAV Publishing House. pp. 203–04.  
  15. ^ Michael P. Foley (2005). Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Friday?. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 18.  
  16. ^ Ann Ball (1997). Catholic Traditions in Crafts. Our Sunday Visitor. p. 19.  
  17. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica. 2003. The modern Christmas tree ... originated in western Germany. The main prop of a popular medieval play about Adam and Eve was a fir tree hung with apples (paradise tree) representing the Garden of Eden. The Germans set up a paradise tree in their homes on December 24, the religious feast day of Adam and Eve. They hung wafers on it (symbolizing the host, the Christian sign of redemption); in a later tradition, the wafers were replaced by cookies of various shapes. Candles, too, were often added as the symbol of Christ. In the same room, during the Christmas season, was the  
  18. ^ von Staufer, Maria. "The Chronological History of the Christmas Tree". The Christmas Archives. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  19. ^ Friedrich Amelung (1885). Geschichte der Revaler Schwarzenhäupter: von ihrem Ursprung an bis auf die Gegenwart: nach den urkundenmäßigen Quellen des Revaler Schwarzenhäupter-Archivs 1, Die erste Blütezeit von 1399–1557 [History of the Tallinn Blackheads: from their origins until the present day: from the testimonial sources of the Tallinn Blackheads archive. 1: The first golden age of 1399–1557] (in Deutsch).  
  20. ^ Johannes Marbach (1859). ]The holy Christmas season for meaning, history, customs and symbols [Die heilige Weihnachtszeit nach Bedeutung, Geschichte, Sitten und Symbolen (in German). p. 416. Was ist auch eine deutsche Christenfamilie am Christabend ohne Christbäumchen? Zumal in der Fremde, unter kaltherzigen Engländern und frivolen Franzosen, unter den amerikanischen Indianern und den Papuas von Australien. Entbehren doch die nichtdeutschen Christen neben dem Christbäumchen noch so viele Züge deutscher Gemüthlichkeit. (English: What would a German Christian family do on Christmas Eve without a Christmas tree? Especially in foreign lands, among cold-hearted Englishmen and frivolous Frenchmen, among the American Indians and the Papua of Australia. Even apart from the Christmas tree, the non-German Christians suffer from a lack of a great many traits of German Gemütlichkeit.) 
  21. ^ "Danmarks første juletræ blev tændt i 1808". Kristelig Dagblad. December 17, 2008. 
  22. ^ At Queen's Lodge, Windsor
  23. ^ In 1829 the diarist  
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  25. ^ Marie Claire Lejeune. Compendium of symbolic and ritual plants in Europe. Man & Culture. p. 550.  
  26. ^ ”GERMAN CHRISTMAS TREES. The nobility and gentry are respectfully informed that these handsome JUVENILE CHRISTMAS PRESENTS are supplied and elegantly fitted up...”:Times [London, England] 20 December 1842:p.1
  27. ^ The Christmas Tree: published by Darton and Clark, London. 'The ceremony of the Christmas tree, so well known throughout Germany, bids fair to be welcomed among us, with the other festivities of the season, especially now the Queen, within her own little circle, has set the fashion, by introducing it on the Christmas Eve in her own regal palace.' Book review of The Christmas Tree from the Weekly Chronicle, 14 December 1844, quoted in an advert headlined 'A new pleasure for Christmas' in The Times, 23 December 1844, p.8
  28. ^ Godfrey and Margaret Scheele (1977). The Prince Consort, Man of many Facets: The World and The Age of Prince Albert. Oresko Books. p. 78.  
  29. ^ At the beginning of the year the custom was well-enough known for The Times to compare the January budget of 1848 with gifts handed out beneath "the Christmas tree":The Times (London, England), 21 January 1848, p. 4
  30. ^ Special Christmas supplement edition, published 23 December 1848
  31. ^ The Times (London, England), 27 December 1848. p. 7
  32. ^ “Now the best Christmas box/You can give to the young/Is not toys, nor fine playthings,/Nor trees gaily hung...”: Manchester Guardian, Saturday, January 05, 1856, p.6
  33. ^ Manchester Guardian, 24 January 1856, p.3: the death of Caroline Luttrell of Kilve Court, Somerset.
  34. ^ The Times (London, England), 28 December 1858, p. 8
  35. ^ The Poor Children's Yuletide Association. The Times (London, England),20 December 1906, p.2. The association sent 71 trees 'bearing thousands of toys' to the poorest districts of London.
  36. ^ 'A Merry Christmas': The Times (London, England), 27 December 1918, p.2 '...the so-called "Christmas tree" was out of favour. Large stocks of young firs were to be seen at Covent Garden on Christmas Eve, but found few buyers. It was remembered that the "Christmas tree" has enemy associations."
  37. ^ The next year a charity fair in aid of injured soldiers featured 'a huge Christmas-tree'. 'St. Dunstan's Christmas Fair.' The Times (London, England),20 December 1919, p.9
  38. ^ 'Poor families in Lewisham and similar districts are just as particular about the shape of their trees as people in Belgravia...' 'Shapely Christmas Trees':The Times (London, England), 17 December 1926, p.11
  39. ^ Christmas Tree Plantations. The Times (London, England), 11 December 1937, p.11
  40. ^
  41. ^ Emmy E. Werner (2006). In Pursuit of Liberty: Coming of Age in the American Revolution. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 115.  
  42. ^ a b Alfred Lewis Shoemaker (1999) [1959]. Christmas in Pennsylvania: a folk-cultural study. Stackpole Books. pp. 52–53.  
  43. ^ Karal Ann Marling (2000). Merry Christmas! Celebrating America's greatest holiday.  
  44. ^ "The History of Christmas". Gareth Marples. Retrieved December 2, 2006. 
  45. ^ "Professor Brought Christmas Tree to New England".  
  46. ^ "Charles Minnigerode (1814–1894)". Encyclopedia Virginia.  
  47. ^ "1 мая собираются праздновать 59% россиян" [May 1 going to celebrate 59% of Russians] (in Russian). April 27, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. New Year is among the most important holidays for 81% of Russians, while Christmas is such only for 19%, ranking after  
  48. ^ Belk, Russell (2000). "Materialism and the Modern U.S. Christmas". Advertising & Society Review. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  49. ^ a b "Lighting of the National Christmas Tree".  
  50. ^ "Flashback Blog: The World's Largest Decorated Christmas Tree".  
  51. ^ 'Manchester's Gift To Lille..(FROM G. WARD PRICE.)' The Times (London, England),21 December 1918, p.7
  52. ^ "Town twinning: Bergen, Norway".  
  53. ^ "DC: Christmas Tree Lighting at Union Station".  
  54. ^ Peter Mazar (2000). School Year, Church Year: Customs and Decorations for the Classroom. Liturgy Training Publications. p. 161.  
  55. ^ "Customs of the Weeks after Epiphany". Holy Trinity (German) Catholic Church, Boston. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  56. ^ "Christmas Superstitions".  
  57. ^ Ace Collins Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas. 2003; Zondervan.
  58. ^ "Safety in the holidays". Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  59. ^ Gary A. Chastagner and D. Michael Benson (2000). "The Christmas Tree". Archived from the original on December 6, 2006. Retrieved December 8, 2006. 
  60. ^ "Living Christmas Trees".  
  61. ^ "Christmas tree". Department of Forestry,  
  62. ^ "BLM and Forest Service Christmas tree permits available".  
  63. ^ "2007 Census of Agriculture: Specialty Crops (Volume 2, Subject Series, Part 8)" (PDF).  
  64. ^ "Unsere kleine Baumschule — Wissenswertes" [Our little nursery: Trivia] (in Deutsch). 2010. Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  65. ^ a b Bruce David Forbes (2007). Christmas: A Candid History.  
  66. ^ a b c d e f James Hewitt (2007). The Christmas Tree. pp. 33–36.  
  67. ^ a b Broderick Perkins (December 12, 2003). "Faux Christmas Tree Crop Yields Special Concerns". Realty Times. Retrieved December 21, 2008. 
  68. ^ Elizabeth Silverthorne (1994). Christmas in Texas. Texas A&M University Press. p. 62.  
  69. ^ Karal Ann Marling (2000). Merry Christmas!: Celebrating America's Greatest Holiday. Harvard University Press. pp. 58–62.  
  70. ^ Peter Cole (2002). Christmas Trees: Fun and Festive Ideas. Chronicle Books. p. 23.  
  71. ^ Cassandra A. Fortin (October 26, 2008). "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas (1958)".  
  72. ^ Candice Gaukel Andrews (2006). Great Wisconsin Winter Weekends. Big Earth Publishing. p. 178.  
  73. ^ Jennifer Berry (December 9, 2008). "Fake Christmas Trees Not So Green".  
  74. ^ Katherine Neer (December 2006). "How Christmas Trees Work".  
  75. ^ "Table-top Christmas Tree".  
  76. ^ "Glass Christmas Tree, one-day course listing". Diablo Glass School. Retrieved December 21, 2008. 
  77. ^ "Demand Grows for Upside Down Christmas Tree" (Audio).  
  78. ^ "Christmas Tree Safety".  
  79. ^ a b Sharon Caskey Hayes (November 26, 2008). "Grower says real Christmas trees are better for environment than artificial ones". Kingsport Times-News ( 
  80. ^ "Facts on PVC Used in Artificial Christmas Trees".  
  81. ^ "Engineer Update: Old Christmas trees protect town beach".  
  82. ^ David Biello (December 4, 2008). "I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas (Tree)" ( 
  83. ^ a b "Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Christmas trees — A study ends the debate over which Christmas tree, natural or artificial, is most ecological". Ellipsos Inc. December 16, 2008. Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  84. ^ "Recycling Your Tree: Real Christmas Trees are Recyclable".  
  85. ^ Maas, R. P.; Patch, S. C.; Pandolfo, T. J. (2004). "Artificial Christmas trees: How real are the lead exposure risks?". Journal of environmental health 67 (5): 20–24, 32.  . Last accessed December 18, 2012.
  86. ^ a b Levin, R.; Brown, M. J.; Kashtock, M. E. et al. (2008). "Lead Exposures in U.S. Children, 2008: Implications for Prevention". Environmental Health Perspectives 116 (10): 1285–1293.   . Last accessed December 18, 2012.
  87. ^ Senn, Frank C. (2012). Introduction to Christian Liturgy. Fortress Press. p. 118.  
  88. ^ "The Christmas Tree". Lutheran Spokesman. 29-32. 1936. The Christmas tree became a widespread custom among German Lutherans by the eighteenth century. 
  89. ^ Kelly, Joseph F. (2010). The Feast of Christmas. Liturgical Press. p. 94.  
  90. ^ Blainey, Geoffrey (24 October 2013). A Short History of Christianity.  
  91. ^ The School Journal (E.L. Kellogg & Company) 55: 698. 1897. Christmas is the occasional of family reunions. Grandmother always has the place of honor. As the time approaches for enjoying the tree, she gathers her grandchildren about her, to tell them the story of the Christ child, with the meaning of the Christ child, with the meaning of the Christmas tree; how the evergreen is meant to represent the life everlasting, the candle lights to recall the light of the world, and the star at the top of the tree is to remind them of the star of Bethlehem. 
  92. ^ Connelly, Mark (2000). Christmas at the Movies: Images of Christmas in American, British and European Cinema. I.B.Tauris. p. 186.  
  93. ^ a b Echo of Islam. MIG. 1993. In the former Soviet Union, fir trees were usually put up to mark New Year's day, following a tradition established by the officially atheist state. 
  94. ^ Ramet, Sabrina Petra (10 November 2005). Religious Policy in the Soviet Union.  
  95. ^ Dice, Elizabeth A. (2009). Christmas and Hanukkah. Infobase Publishing. p. 44.  
  96. ^ Margaret Stenhouse (December 22, 2010). "The Vatican Christmas Tree". Retrieved December 19, 2012. 
  97. ^ "Pre-Christmas Reflection: May Our Spirits Open to the True Spiritual Light". Zenit News Agency. December 21, 2005. Retrieved December 19, 2012. 
  98. ^ "'"Christmas tree is symbol of Christ, says Pope — And a Sign of 'Undying Life. Zenit News Agency. December 19, 2004. Retrieved December 19, 2012. 
  99. ^ message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, Christmas 2003"Urbi et Orbi" (in Latin). December 25, 2003. Retrieved December 19, 2012. 
  100. ^ "Order for the Blessing of a Christmas Tree". Crossroads Initiative. Retrieved December 19, 2012. 
  101. ^ Kitch, Anne E. (2004). The Anglican Family Prayer Book. Morehouse Publishing. p. 125. 
  102. ^ a b c "Nativity to be Allowed in Capitol Rotunda: Lawsuit Settlement Calls for Fair Treatment for Christian Beliefs". October 23, 2007. Retrieved December 19, 2012. 
  103. ^ "Boston's 'Holiday Tree' Sparks Controversy".  
  104. ^ "At Christmas, what's in a name?".  
  105. ^ Vipperman, Heather F. "Chrismons Ministry". History. Lutheran Church. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 


See also

Chrismon trees are a variety developed in 1957 by a Lutheran laywoman in Virginia, as a specifically religious version appropriate for a church's Christmas celebrations, although most Christian churches continue to display the traditional Christmas tree in their sanctuaries during Christmastide.[106]

In 2006, the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport removed all of its Christmas trees in the middle of the night rather than allow a rabbi to put up a menorah near the largest tree display.[103] Officials feared that one display would open the door for other religious displays,[103] and, in 2007, they opted to display a grove of birches in polyethylene terephthalate snow rather than religious symbols or Christmas trees.[103] In 2005, the city of Boston renamed the spruce tree used to decorate the Boston Common a "Holiday Tree" rather than a "Christmas Tree".[104] The name change drew a poor response from the public and it was reversed after the city was threatened with several lawsuits.[105] At the Bilbao airport 2005 displayed a Christmas tree and a Santa Claus and Christmas elf alongside the Basque Olentzero, as a way of syncretising traditions in Northern Spain.

Pope John Paul II introduced the Christmas tree custom to the Vatican in 1982. Although at first disapproved of by some as out of place at the centre of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican Christmas Tree has become an integral part of the Vatican Christmas celebrations,[97] and in 2005 Pope Benedict XVI spoke of it as part of the normal Christmas decorations in Catholic homes.[98] In 2004, Pope John Paul called the Christmas tree a symbol of Christ. This very ancient custom, he said, exalts the value of life, as in winter what is evergreen becomes a sign of undying life, and it reminds Christians of the "tree of life" of Genesis 2:9, an image of Christ, the supreme gift of God to humanity.[99] In the previous year he said: "Beside the crib, the Christmas tree, with its twinkling lights, reminds us that with the birth of Jesus the tree of life has blossomed anew in the desert of humanity. The crib and the tree: precious symbols, which hand down in time the true meaning of Christmas."[100] The Catholic Church's official Book of Blessings has a service for the blessing of the Christmas tree in a home.[101] Likewise the Protestant Episcopal Church in The Anglican Family Prayer Book, which has the imprimatur of The Rt. Rev. Catherine S. Roskam of the Anglican Communion, has long had a ritual titled Blessing of a Christmas Tree, as well as Blessing of a Crèche, for use in the church and the home.[102]

Under the Marxist-Leninist doctrine of state atheism in the Soviet Union, after its foundation in 1917, Christmas celebrations--along with other religious holidays--were prohibited as a result of the Soviet antireligious campaign.[93][94] The League of Militant Atheists encouraged school pupils to campaign against Christmas traditions, among them being the Christmas tree, as well as other Christian holidays, including Easter; the League established an antireligious holiday to be the 31st of each month as a replacement.[95] With the Christmas tree being prohibited in accordance with Soviet anti-religious legislation, people supplanted the former Christmas custom with New Year's trees.[96][94]

The Christmas tree was first used by German Lutherans in the 16th Century, with records indicating that a Christmas tree was placed in the Cathedral of Strassburg in 1539, under the leadership of the Protestant Reformer, Martin Bucer.[88][89] In the United States, these "German Lutherans brought the decorated Christmas tree with them; the Moravians put lighted candles on those trees."[90][91] When decorating the Christmas tree, many individuals place a star at the top of the tree symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem, a fact recorded by The School Journal in 1897.[1][92] Professor David Albert Jones of Oxford University writes that in the 19th century, it became popular for people to also use an angel to top the Christmas tree in order to symbolize the angels mentioned in the accounts of the Nativity of Jesus.[2]

A 1931 edition of the Soviet magazine Bezbozhnik, distributed by the League of Militant Atheists, depicting an Orthodox Christian priest being forbidden to cut down a tree for Christmas

Religious issues

Most artificial trees are made of recycled PVC rigid sheets using tin stabilizer in the recent years. In the past, lead was often used as a stabilizer in PVC, but is now banned by Chinese laws. The use of lead stabilizer in Chinese imported trees has been an issue of concern among politicians and scientists over recent years. A 2004 study found that while in general artificial trees pose little health risk from lead contamination, there do exist "worst-case scenarios" where major health risks to young children exist.[86] A 2008 United States Environmental Protection Agency report found that as the PVC in artificial Christmas trees aged it began to degrade.[87] The report determined that of the 50 million artificial trees in the United States approximately 20 million were 9 or more years old, the point where dangerous lead contamination levels are reached.[87] A professional study on the life-cycle assessment of both real and artificial Christmas trees revealed that one must use an artificial Christmas tree at least 20 years to leave an environmental footprint as small as the natural Christmas tree.[84]

Live trees are typically grown as a crop and replanted in rotation after cutting, often providing suitable habitat for wildlife. In some cases management of Christmas tree crops can result in poor habitat since it sometimes involves heavy input of pesticides. Concerns have been raised about people cutting down old and rare conifers, such as the Keteleeria evelyniana, for Christmas trees. Real or cut trees are used only for a short time, but can be recycled and used as mulch or used to prevent erosion.[82] Real trees are carbon-neutral, they emit no more carbon dioxide by being cut down and disposed of than they absorb while growing.[83] However, emissions can occur from farming activities and transportation. An independent life-cycle assessment study, conducted by a firm of experts in sustainable development, states that a natural tree will generate 3.1 kg (6.8 lb) of greenhouse gases every year (based on purchasing 5 km (3.1 miles) from home) whereas the artificial tree will produce 48.3 kg (106 lb) over its lifetime.[84] Some people use living Christmas or potted trees for several seasons, providing a longer life cycle for each tree. Living Christmas trees can be purchased or rented from local market growers. Rentals are picked up after the holidays, while purchased trees can be planted by the owner after use or donated to local tree adoption or urban reforestation services.[85]

Christmas tree recycling point (point recyclage de sapins) in Paris, 22 January 2010

The debate about the environmental impact of artificial trees is ongoing. Generally, natural tree growers contend that artificial trees are more environmentally harmful than their natural counterparts.[80] However, trade groups such as the American Christmas Tree Association, continue to refute that artificial trees are more harmful to the environment, and maintain that the PVC used in Christmas trees has excellent recyclable properties.[81]

Poinsettia flowers arranged into the conical shape of a "Christmas tree", topped with a "Star of Bethlehem", in San Diego (2005)

Environmental issues

Other trends have developed in the early 2000s as well. Optical fiber Christmas trees come in two major varieties; one resembles a traditional Christmas tree.[75] One Dallas-based company offers "holographic mylar" trees in many hues.[68] Tree-shaped objects made from such materials as cardboard,[76] glass,[77] ceramic or other materials can be found in use as tabletop decorations. Upside-down artificial Christmas trees became popular for a short time and were originally introduced as a marketing gimmick; they allowed consumers to get closer to ornaments for sale in retail stores and opened up floor space for more products.[78] Artificial trees became increasingly popular during the late 20th century.[67] Users of artificial Christmas trees assert that they are more convenient, and, because they are reusable, much cheaper than their natural alternative.[67] They are also considered much safer[79] as natural trees can be a significant fire hazard. Between 2001 and 2007 artificial Christmas tree sales in the U.S. jumped from 7.3 million to 17.4 million.[80]

Over the years, other styles of artificial Christmas trees have evolved and become popular. In 1930, the U.S.-based Addis Brush Company created the first artificial Christmas tree made from brush bristles.[71] Another type of artificial tree is the aluminum Christmas tree,[67] first manufactured in Chicago in 1958,[72] and later in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where the majority of the trees were produced.[73] Most modern artificial Christmas trees are made from plastic recycled from used packaging materials, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC).[67] Approximately 10% of artificial Christmas trees are using virgin suspension PVC resin; despite being plastic most artificial trees are not recyclable or biodegradable.[74]

The first artificial Christmas trees were developed in Germany during the 19th century,[66][67] though earlier examples exist.[68] These "trees" were made using goose feathers that were dyed green.,[66] as one response by Germans to continued deforestation.[67] Feather Christmas trees ranged widely in size, from a small 2-inch (51 mm) tree to a large 98-inch (2,500 mm) tree sold in department stores during the 1920s.[69] Often, the tree branches were tipped with artificial red berries which acted as candle holders.[70]

Christmas Tree
A lighted artificial Christmas tree with ornaments

An artificial Christmas tree

Artificial trees

The life cycle of a Christmas tree from the seed to a 2-metre (7 ft) tree takes, depending on species and treatment in cultivation, between 8 and 12 years. First, the seed is extracted from cones harvested from older trees. These seeds are then usually grown in nurseries and then sold to Christmas tree farms at an age of 3–4 years. The remaining development of the tree greatly depends on the climate, soil quality, as well as the cultivation and how the trees are tended by the Christmas tree farmer.[65]

In the past, Christmas trees were often harvested from wild forests, but now almost all are commercially grown on tree farms. Almost all Christmas trees in the United States are grown on Christmas tree farms where they are cut after about ten years of growth and new trees planted. According to the United States Department of Agriculture's agriculture census for 2007, 21,537 farms were producing conifers for the cut Christmas tree market in America, 5,717.09 square kilometres (1,412,724 acres) were planted in Christmas trees.[64]

European tradition prefers the open aspect of naturally grown, unsheared trees, while in North America (outside western areas where trees are often wild-harvested on public lands)[63] there is a preference for close-sheared trees with denser foliage, but less space to hang decorations.

Some trees, frequently referred to as "living Christmas trees", are sold live with roots and soil, often from a plant nursery, to be stored at nurseries in planters or planted later outdoors and enjoyed (and often decorated) for years or decades. Others are produced in a container and sometimes as topiary for a porch or patio. However, when done improperly, the combination of root loss caused by digging, and the indoor environment of high temperature and low humidity is very detrimental to the tree's health; additionally, the warmth of an indoor climate will bring the tree out of its natural winter dormancy, leaving it little protection when put back outside into a cold outdoor climate. Often Christmas trees are a large attraction for living animals, including mice and spiders. Thus, the survival rate of these trees is low.[61] However when done properly, replanting provides higher survival rates.[62]

Several other species are used to a lesser extent. Less-traditional conifers are sometimes used, such as giant sequoia, Leyland cypress, Monterey cypress and eastern juniper. Various types of spruce tree are also used for Christmas trees (including the blue spruce and, less commonly, the white spruce); but spruces (unlike firs) begin to lose their needles rapidly upon being cut, and spruce needles are often sharp, making decorating uncomfortable. Virginia pine is still available on some tree farms in the southeastern United States, however its winter colour is faded. The long-needled eastern white pine is also used there, though it is an unpopular Christmas tree in most parts of the country, owing also to its faded winter coloration and limp branches, making decorating difficult with all but the lightest ornaments. Norfolk Island pine is sometimes used, particularly in Oceania, and in Australia, some species of the genera Casuarina and Allocasuarina are also occasionally used as Christmas trees. But, by far, the most common tree is the Monterey pine. Adenanthos sericeus or Albany woolly bush is commonly sold in southern Australia as a potted living Christmas tree. Hemlock species are generally considered unsuitable as Christmas trees due to their poor needle retention and inability to support the weight of lights and ornaments.

In North America, Central America and South America most commonly used are:

In northern Europe most commonly used are:

The most commonly used species are fir (Abies), which have the benefit of not shedding their needles when they dry out, as well as retaining good foliage colour and scent; but species in other genera are also used.

Natural trees

A grower in Waterloo, Nova Scotia, prunes balsam fir trees in October. The tree must experience three frosts to stabilize the needles before cutting.
Trees on sale at a Christmas market in Vienna, painting by Carl Wenzel Zajicek (1908)
Father and son with their dog collecting a tree in the forest, painting by Franz Krüger (1797–1857)

Each year, 33 to 36 million Christmas trees are produced in America, and 50 to 60 million are produced in Europe. In 1998, there were about 15,000 growers in America (a third of them "choose and cut" farms). In that same year, it was estimated that Americans spent $1.5 billion on Christmas trees.[60]

Undecorated Christmas trees for sale


In the late 1800s and, most probably, long before, home-made white Christmas trees were made by wrapping strips of cotton batting around leafless branches creating the appearance of a snow-laden tree. This family tradition eliminated killing and care of a live tree and needle drop in the house while providing a beautiful way of displaying ornaments. After Christmas, the cotton batting was unwrapped and stored with the Christmas presents and the branches were burnt or discarded. It is thought these home-made white trees at least, in part, inspired flocking popularized by Hollywood films in the late 1930s.

In the 1940s and 1950s flocking was very popular on the West Coast of the United States. There were home flocking kits that could be used with vacuum cleaners. In the 1980s some trees were sprayed with fluffy white flocking to simulate snow. Typically it would be sprayed all over the tree from the sides, which produced a look different from real snow, which settles in clumps atop branches. Flocking can be done with a professional sprayer at a tree lot (or an artificial tree's manufacturer), or at home from a spray can. This tradition seems to be most popular on the west coast and southern parts of the United States. Because flock contains flame retardants, a flocked tree can be placed in a public building in accordance with local fire safety codes.

A Christmas tree stand is an object designed to support a cut, natural Christmas tree or an artificial Christmas tree. Christmas tree stands appeared as early as 1876 and have had various designs over the years. Those stands designed for natural trees have a water reservoir to hydrate the live tree. Artificial Christmas trees usually have a plastic or metal stand, with three legs shaping like a Y.

Generally, the difference between a mat and skirt is simply that a mat is placed under the Christmas tree stand, while a skirt is placed over it, having a hole in the middle for the trunk, with a slot cut to the outside edge so that it can be placed around the tree (beneath the branches) easily. A plain mat of fabric or plastic may also be placed under the stand and skirt to protect the floor from scratches or water.

A nativity scene, model train, or Christmas village may be placed on the mat or skirt. As Christmas presents arrive, they are generally placed underneath the tree on the tree skirt (depending on tradition, all Christmas gifts, or those too large to be hung on the tree, as in "presents on the tree" of the song "I'll Be Home for Christmas").

Because candles were used to light trees until electric bulbs came about, a mat (UK) or skirt (US) was often placed on the floor below the tree to collect wax drippings and also any needles that fell. Even when dripless candles, electric lights and artificial trees have been used, a skirt is still usually used as a decorative feature: among other things, it hides the Christmas tree stand, which may be unsightly yet an important safety feature of home trees.[59] What began as ordinary cloth has now often become much more ornate, some having embroidery or being put together like a quilt.

Many people also decorate outdoor trees with food that birds and other wildlife will enjoy, such as garlands made from unsalted popcorn or cranberries, orange halves, and seed-covered suet cakes.

Individuals' decorations typically include a mix of family traditions and personal tastes; even a small unattractive ornament, if passed down from a parent or grandparent, may come to carry considerable emotional value and be given a place of pride on the tree. Conversely, trees decorated by professional designers for department stores and other institutions will usually have a "theme"; a set of predominant colours, multiple instances of each type of ornament, and larger decorations that may be more complicated to set up correctly. Some churches decorate with Chrismon trees, which use handmade ornaments depicting various Chrismon symbols.

The ornaments were hand-painted and topped with a cap and hook.[58] Tinsel and several types of garland or ribbon are commonly used to decorate a Christmas tree. Silvered saran-based tinsel was introduced later. Delicate mold-blown and painted colored glass Christmas ornaments were a speciality of the glass factories in the Thuringian Forest, especially in Lauscha in the late 19th century, and have since become a large industry, complete with famous-name designers. Baubles are another common decoration, consisting of small hollow glass or plastic spheres coated with a thin metallic layer to make them reflective, with a further coating of a thin pigmented polymer in order to provide coloration. Lighting with electric lights (fairy lights) is commonly done. A tree-topper, sometimes an angel but more frequently a star, completes the decoration.

Christmas ornaments are decorations (usually made of glass, metal, wood, or ceramics) that are used to decorate a Christmas tree. The first decorated trees were adorned with apples, white candy canes and pastries in the shapes of stars, hearts and flowers. Glass baubles were first made in Lauscha, Germany, garlands of glass beads and tin figures that could be hung on trees. The popularity of these decorations grew into the production of glass figures made by highly skilled artisans with clay molds.

Christmas ornaments at the Christmas market, Strasbourg
Large hand painted free-blown glass bauble
White house Christmas tree


In Italy and Argentina, along with many countries in Latin America, the Christmas tree is put up on 8 December (Immaculate Conception day) and left up until 6 January. In Australia, the Christmas tree is usually put up on 1 December, which occurs about a week before the school summer holidays; except for South Australia, where most people put up their tree after the Adelaide Christmas Pageant in late November. Some traditions suggest that Christmas trees may be kept up until no later than 2 February, the feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (Candlemas), when the Christmas season effectively closes.[56] Superstitions say that it is a bad sign if Christmas greenery is not removed by Candlemas Eve.[57]

In many areas, it has become customary to set up one's Christmas tree at the beginning of the Advent season.[55] Some families in the U.S. and Canada will put up a Christmas tree a week prior to American Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday of November), and Christmas decorations can show up even earlier in retail stores, often the day after Halloween (31 October). Some households do not put up the tree until the second week of December, and leave it up until 6 January (Epiphany). In Germany, traditionally the tree is put up on 24 December and taken down on 7 January, though many start one or two weeks earlier, and in Roman Catholic homes the tree may be kept until February 2 (Candlemas).

Both setting up and taking down a Christmas tree are associated with specific dates. Traditionally, Christmas trees were not brought in and decorated until Christmas Eve (24 December) or, in the traditions celebrating Christmas Eve rather than the first day of Christmas, 23 December, and then removed the day after Twelfth Night (5 January); to have a tree up before or after these dates was even considered bad luck.

A candle on a Christmas tree

Setting up and taking down

Customs and traditions

The giving of Christmas trees has also often been associated with the end of hostilities. After the signing of the Armistice in 1918 the city of Manchester sent a tree, and £500 to buy chocolate and cakes, for the children of the much-bombarded town of Lille in northern France.[52] In some cases the trees represent special commemorative gifts, such as in Trafalgar Square in London, where the City of Oslo, Norway presents a tree to the people of London as a token of appreciation for the British support of Norwegian resistance during the Second World War; in Boston, where the tree is a gift from the province of Nova Scotia, in thanks for rapid deployment of supplies and rescuers to the 1917 ammunition ship explosion that levelled the city of Halifax; and in Newcastle upon Tyne, where the main civic Christmas tree is an annual gift from the city of Bergen, in thanks for the part played by soldiers from Newcastle in liberating Bergen from Nazi occupation.[53] Norway also annually gifts a Christmas tree to Washington, D.C. as a symbol of friendship between Norway and the US and as an expression of gratitude from Norway for the help received from the US during World War II.[54]

In some cities, a Festival of Trees is organized around the decoration and display of multiple trees as charity events.

During most of the 1970s and 1980s, the largest decorated Christmas tree in the world was put up every year on the property of the National Enquirer in Lantana, Florida. This tradition grew into one of the most spectacular and celebrated events in the history of southern Florida, but was discontinued on the death of the paper's founder in the late 1980s.[51]

The United States' National Christmas Tree has been lit each year since 1923 on the South Lawn of the White House. Today, the lighting of the National Christmas Tree is part of what has become a major holiday event at the White House. President Jimmy Carter lit only the crowning star atop the tree in 1979 in honour of the Americans being held hostage in Iran.[50] The same was true in 1980, except that the tree was fully lit for 417 seconds, one second for each day the hostages had been in captivity.[50]

The use of fire retardant allows many indoor public areas to place real trees -and be compliant with code. Licensed applicants of fire retardant solution spray the tree, tag the tree, and provide a certificate for inspection. Real trees are popular with high end visual merchandising displays around the world. Leading global retailers like Apple often place real trees in their window display. In 2009 Apple placed 2 Fraser fir for every store in the world. The trees were supplied from North Pole Xmas Trees in Nashua NH USA. In addition, using a real tree rather than a fake reflects a greater corporate responsibility to the environment.

Since the early 20th century, it has become common in many cities, towns, and department stores to put up public Christmas trees outdoors, such as the Macy's Great Tree in Atlanta (since 1948), the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York City, and the large Christmas tree at Victoria Square in Adelaide.

An early example of a public Christmas celebration tree for the unemployed in Prague.
Christmas trees in Husum church

Public Christmas trees

The TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) was influential on the pop culture surrounding the Christmas tree. Aluminum Christmas trees were popular during the early 1960s in the US. They were satirized in the Charlie Brown show and came to be seen as symbolizing the commercialization of Christmas. The term Charlie Brown Christmas tree, describing any poor-looking or malformed little tree, also derives from the 1965 TV special, based on the appearance of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree.[49]

In Russia, the Christmas tree was banned shortly after the October Revolution but then reinstated as a New-year spruce (Новогодняя ёлка, Novogodnyaya yolka) in 1935. It became a fully secular icon of the New Year holiday, for example, the crowning star was regarded not as a symbol of Bethlehem Star, but as the Red Star. Decorations, such as figurines of airplanes, bicycles, space rockets, cosmonauts, and characters of Russian fairy tales, were produced. This tradition persists after the fall of the USSR, with the New Year holiday outweighing the Christmas (7 January) for a wide majority of Russian people.[48]

A Christmas tree from 1951, in a home in New York State.

1935 to present

The lyrics sung in the United States to the German tune O Tannenbaum begin "O Christmas tree", giving rise to the mistaken idea that the German word Tannenbaum (fir tree) means "Christmas tree", the German word for which is instead Weihnachtsbaum.

[47] Several cities in the United States with German connections lay claim to that country's first Christmas tree:

A woodcut of the British Royal family with their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle, initially published in The Illustrated London News December 1848, was copied in the United States at Christmas 1850, in Godey's Lady's Book. Godey's copied it exactly, except for the removal of the Queen's tiara and Prince Albert's moustache, to remake the engraving into an American scene.[43] The republished Godey's image became the first widely circulated picture of a decorated evergreen Christmas tree in America. Art historian Karal Ann Marling called Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, shorn of their royal trappings, "the first influential American Christmas tree".[44] Folk-culture historian Alfred Lewis Shoemaker states, "In all of America there was no more important medium in spreading the Christmas tree in the decade 1850–60 than Godey's Lady's Book". The image was reprinted in 1860, and by the 1870s, putting up a Christmas tree had become common in America.[43]

The tradition was introduced to Canada in the winter of 1781 by Brunswick soldiers stationed in the Province of Quebec to garrison the colony against American attack. General Friedrich Adolf Riedesel and his wife, the Baroness von Riedesel, held a Christmas party at Sorel, delighting their guests with a fir tree decorated with candles and fruits.[42]

The Christmas tree by Homer Winslow, 1858
Christmas tree depicted as Christmas card by Prang & Co. (Boston) 1880

North America

Their use at public entertainments, charity bazaars and in hospitals made them increasingly familiar however, and in 1906 a charity was set up specifically to ensure even poor children in London slums 'who had never seen a Christmas tree' would enjoy one that year.[36] Anti-German sentiment after World War I briefly reduced their popularity[37] but the effect was short-lived[38] and by the mid-1920s the use of Christmas trees had spread to all classes.[39] In 1933 a restriction on the importation of foreign trees led to the 'rapid growth of a new industry' as the growing of Christmas trees within Britain became commercially viable due to the size of demand.[40] By 2013 the number of trees grown in Britain for the Christmas market was approximately 8 million[41] and their display in homes, shops and public spaces a normal part of the Christmas season.

[35] They had not yet spread down the social scale though, as a report from Berlin in 1858 contrasts the situation there where "Every family has its own" with that of Britain, where Christmas trees were still the preserve of the wealthy or the "romantic".[34] as well as reporting the accidental death of a woman whose dress caught fire as she lit the tapers on a Christmas tree.[33] in detail and showed the main tree, surrounded by the royal family, on its cover. In fewer than ten years their use in better-off homes was widespread. By 1856 a northern provincial newspaper contained an advert alluding casually to them,Windsor Castle described the trees in [32] in a report picked up by other papers,[31],The Illustrated London News when [30] A boost to the trend was given in 1848[29] In 1847, Prince Albert wrote: "I must now seek in the children an echo of what Ernest [his brother] and I were in the old time, of what we felt and thought; and their delight in the Christmas-trees is not less than ours used to be".[28], describing their use and origins in detail, was on sale in December 1844.The Christmas Tree An illustrated book, [27] as wealthier middle-class families followed the fashion. In 1842 a newspaper advert for Christmas trees makes clear their smart cachet, German origins and association with children and gift-giving.[26], by 1841 the custom became even more widespreadPrince AlbertAfter Victoria's marriage to her German cousin
"After dinner... we then went into the drawing-room near the dining-room... There were two large round tables on which were placed two trees hung with lights and sugar ornaments. All the presents being placed round the trees..."[25]
Queen Victoria as a child was familiar with it and a tree was placed in her room every Christmas. In her journal for Christmas Eve 1832, the delighted 13-year-old princess wrote: [24] The custom did not at first spread much beyond the royal family.[23], introduced a Christmas tree at a party she gave for children in 1800.Charlotte of Mecklenburg-StrelitzAlthough the tradition of decorating the home with evergreens was long established, the custom of decorating an entire small tree was unknown in Britain until some two centuries ago. At the time of the
The Christmas Tree 1911 by Albert Chevallier Tayler


In the early 19th century, the custom became popular among the nobility and spread to royal courts as far as Russia. Hans Christian Andersen in 1865. He had published a fairy-tale called The Fir-Tree in 1844, recounting the fate of a fir-tree being used as a Christmas tree.[22]

Christmas tree painting 1877 by H. J. Overbeek

Adoption by European nobility

A decisive factor in winning general popularity was the German army's decision to place Christmas trees in its barracks and military hospitals during the Franco-Prussian War. Only at the start of the 20th century did Christmas trees appear inside churches, this time in a new brightly lit form.[21]

In the 19th century, the Christmas tree was taken to be an expression of German culture and of Gemütlichkeit, especially among emigrants overseas.[20]

Along the lower Rhine, an area of Roman Catholic majority, the Christmas tree was largely regarded as a Protestant custom. As a result, it remained confined to the upper Rhineland for a relatively long period of time. The custom did eventually gain wider acceptance beginning around 1815 by way of Prussian officials who emigrated there following the Congress of Vienna.

By the early 18th century, the custom had become common in towns of the upper Rhineland, but it had not yet spread to rural areas. Wax candles, expensive items at the time, are found in attestations from the late 18th century.

A little Christmas tree on the table, painting by Ludwig Blume-Siebert in 1888


18th to early 20th centuries

After the Protestant Reformation, such trees are seen in the houses of upper-class Protestant families as a counterpart to the Catholic Christmas cribs. This transition from the guild hall to the bourgeois family homes in the Protestant parts of Germany ultimately gives rise to the modern tradition as it developed in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Customs of erecting decorated trees in wintertime can be traced to Christmas celebrations in Renaissance-era guilds in Northern Germany and Livonia. The first evidence of decorated trees associated with Christmas Day are trees in guildhalls decorated with sweets to be enjoyed by the apprentices and children. In Livonia (present-day Latvia and Estonia), in 1441, 1442, 1510 and 1514, the Brotherhood of Blackheads erected a tree for the holidays in their guild houses in Riga and Reval (now Tallinn). On the last night of the celebrations leading up to the holidays, the tree was taken to the Town Hall Square where the members of the brotherhood danced around it.[19] A Bremen guild chronicle of 1570 reports that a small tree decorated with "apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper flowers" was erected in the guild-house for the benefit of the guild members' children, who collected the dainties on Christmas Day.[5] In 1584, the pastor and chronicler Balthasar Russow in his Chronica der Provinz Lyfflandt (1584) wrote of an established tradition of setting up a decorated spruce at the market square where the young men "went with a flock of maidens and women, first sang and danced there and then set the tree aflame".

Girl with Christmas tree, painting 1892 by Franz Skarbina (1849-1910)

Estonia and Latvia

In Norse mythology, the oak was sacred to the thunder god, Thor. Thor's Oak was a sacred tree of the Germanic Chatti tribe. According to legend, the Christianisation of the heathen tribes by Saint Boniface was marked by the oak's being replaced by the fir (whose triangular shape symbolizes the Trinity) as a "sacred" tree.[18]


In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, these traditions were almost completely replaced by the German custom of decorating the Christmas tree.

There was an old pagan custom of suspending at the ceiling a branch of fir, spruce or pine called Podłaźniczka associated with Koliada. The branches were decorated with apples, nuts, cookies, colored paper, stars made of straw, ribbons and colored wafers. Some people believed that the tree had magical powers that were linked with harvesting and success in the next year.


The Chichilaki resembles the famous beard of St. Basil the Great, who is thought to visit people during Christmas similar to the Santa Claus tradition.

Chichilaki, a Georgian Christmas tree variety.


Alternatively, it is identified with the "tree of paradise" of medieval mystery plays that were given on 24 December, the commemoration and name day of Adam and Eve in various countries. In such plays, a tree decorated with apples (to represent the forbidden fruit) and wafers (to represent the Eucharist and redemption) was used as a setting for the play. Like the Christmas crib, the Paradise tree was later placed in homes. The apples were replaced by round objects such as shiny red balls.[7][8][14][15][16][17]

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime."[13]

It is frequently traced to the symbolism of trees in pre-Christian winter rites, in particular through the story of Donar's Oak and the popularized story of Saint Boniface and the conversion of the German pagans, in which Saint Boniface cuts down an oak tree that the German pagans worshipped, and replaces it with an evergreen tree, telling them about how its triangular shape reminds humanity of the Trinity and how it points to heaven.[11][12]

While it is clear that the modern Christmas tree originated during the Renaissance of early modern Germany, there are a number of speculative theories as to its ultimate origin. Its 16th-century origins are sometimes associated with Protestant Christian reformer Martin Luther who is said to have first added lighted candles to an evergreen tree.[3][9][10]

From Northern Antiquities, an English translation of the Prose Edda from 1847. Painted by Oluf Olufsen Bagge.

Possible predecessors



  • History 1
    • Possible predecessors 1.1
      • Georgia 1.1.1
      • Poland 1.1.2
      • Scandinavia 1.1.3
      • Estonia and Latvia 1.1.4
    • 18th to early 20th centuries 1.2
      • Germany 1.2.1
      • Adoption by European nobility 1.2.2
      • Britain 1.2.3
      • North America 1.2.4
    • 1935 to present 1.3
      • Public Christmas trees 1.3.1
  • Customs and traditions 2
    • Setting up and taking down 2.1
    • Decoration 2.2
  • Production 3
    • Natural trees 3.1
    • Artificial trees 3.2
  • Environmental issues 4
  • Religious issues 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

[8][7][6]-tree", especially in discussions of its folkloristic origins.Yule The Christmas tree has also been known as the "[5] during the second half of the 19th century.Germany It acquired popularity beyond [4]

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