A Christmas tree is one of the most popular traditions associated with the celebration of Christmas. It is normally an evergreen coniferous tree that is brought into a home or used in the open, and is decorated with Christmas lights and colourful ornaments during the days around Christmas.
Our Silver Tree
by: Pamela Price Svoboda
In my family it was traditional to put up a silver (fake) Christmas tree each and every year. You see, we all had asthma and we couldn't have a real tree inside the house so our parents did the next best thing and started putting up a pretty silver one that had a multi color, color wheel that would shine on it and make the shinny silver tree change colors. To me it was the most beautiful Christmas Tree I had ever seen and it out did all the other green trees that my friends had. Mother even filled the silver tree with hand beaded ornaments that she made herself. The tree was a glistening wonder of fake beauty and I could lay under it's branches and watch the sparkles for hours and hours.
First Christmas Trees in History
- A Bremen guild chronicle of 1570 which reports how a small fir was decorated with apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper flowers, and erected in the guild-house, for the benefit of the guild members' children, who collected the dainties on Christmas day.
- A tailors apprentices in Basel carried around town a tree decorated with apples and cheese in 1597.
- The city of Riga, Latvia, claims to be home of the first holiday tree; an octagonal plaque in the town square reads "The First New Year's Tree in Riga in 1510", in eight languages.
- Wax candles are attested from the late 18th century.
- In the early 19th century, the custom became popular among the nobility and spread to royal courts as far as Russia.
- Queen Victoria as a child was familiar with the custom. In her journal for Christmas Eve 1832, the delighted 13-year-old princess wrote: "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...".
- Several cities in the United States lay claim to that country's first Christmas tree. Windsor Locks, Connecticut, claims that a Hessian soldier put up a Christmas tree in 1777 while imprisoned at the Noden-Reed House, thus making it the home of the first Christmas tree in New England.
- The "First Christmas Tree in America" is also claimed by Easton, Pennsylvania, where German settlers purportedly erected a Christmas tree in 1816. In his diary, Matthew Zahm of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, recorded the use of a Christmas tree in 1821 -- leading Lancaster to also lay claim to the first Christmas Tree in America.
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Why a Christmas Tree skirt was invented
Did you know that when the first Christmas Trees became popular they were lighted by using candles? Well they were.... and did you know that
a mat (UK) or skirt (US) was placed on the floor below the tree to protect it by catching the dripping candle wax? Yep it sure was! This is why and how the Christmas Tree Skirt was invented.
A Christmas Tree Skirt is still traditionally used under all Christmas Trees as a decorative feature. It's no longer traditional to light a tree with candles anymore since electricity was invented but the Christmas Tree Skirt has other great usages like catching the needles that fall to the floor and also to hide an unsightly christmas tree stand.
In many families it's traditional to hand sew a family tree skirt and pass it down to the later generations. These type of Christmas Tree Skirts are usually more ornate with lots of beading and embroidery on it to make it special. These skirts would be more like keep sake skirt quilts.
Christmas Tree Facts
- Christmas trees have been sold commercially in the United States since about 1850.
- In 2002, Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Washington, New York, and Virginia were the top Christmas tree producing states. Oregon was the leading producer of Christmas trees – 6.5 million in 2002.
- The best selling trees are Scotch pine, Douglas fir, Noble fir, Fraser fir, Virginia pine, Balsam fir and white pine.
- In the United States, there are more than 21, 000 Christmas tree growers.
- In the United States, there are more than 12,000 cut-your-own farms.
- In 1979, the National Christmas Tree was not lighted except for the top ornament. This was done in honor of the American hostages in Iran.
- The tradition of an official Chicago Christmas tree was initiated in 1913 when one was first lit by Mayor Carter H. Harrison in Grant Park.
- Since 1966, the National Christmas Tree Association has given a Christmas tree to the President and first family.
- The first decorated Christmas tree was in Riga, Latvia in 1510.
- Growing Christmas trees provides a habitat for wildlife.
- Recycled trees have been used to make sand and soil erosion barriers and been placed in ponds for fish shelter.
- The first Christmas tree retail lot in the United States was started in 1851 in New York by Mark Carr.
- Christmas trees take an average of 7-10 years to mature.
- Christmas trees remove dust and pollen from the air.
- The use of evergreen trees to celebrate the winter season occurred before the birth of Christ.
- Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states including Hawaii and Alaska.
- In 1856 Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States, was the first President to place a Christmas tree in the White House.
- President Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn in 1923.
- Using small candles to light a Christmas tree dates back to the middle of the 17th century.
- Thomas Edison’s assistant, Edward Johnson, came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees in 1882.
- Christmas tree lights were first mass produced in 1890.
- Teddy Roosevelt banned the Christmas tree from the White House for environmental reasons.
- In the first week, a tree in your home will consume as much as a quart of water per day.
- An acre of Christmas trees provides for the daily oxygen requirements of 18 people.
- The first printed reference to Christmas trees appeared in Germany in 1531.
- 30-35 million Real Christmas Trees are sold in the U.S. every year.
- The top selling Christmas Trees are: balsam fir, Douglas-fir, Fraser fir, noble fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine and white pine.
Arbor Day / National Tree Planting Day
Arbor Day is a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. Arbor Day originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska, United States but is also celebrated by several other countries. In Japan, a similarly-themed Greenery Day is celebrated.
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Merry Christmas to you all-