Ever wondered where, when and how Christmas Trees began to appear during the festive season. Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green during the winter had a special meaning for people during the cold months. Ancient people even hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries, it was believed that plants that remained green all year kept away witches, ghosts, evil spirits and illness. Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states!
In the Northern hemisphere, the shortest day and the longest night of the year fall on either 21st of December or the 22nd! It is called the winter solstice. A lot of ancient people believed that the sun was the god, so these people believed that the sun became weak and sick which is why winter arrived every year. They would celebrate the solstice because it meant that, at last, the sun god would become well and healthy again. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and then summer would return!
Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honour of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs.
Germany is actually credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we know that in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. However, if the wood was scarce then some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree.
Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity, the first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania even though trees have been a tradition in many German homes much earlier than this.
Christmas trees have been sold commercially in the United States since about 1850. However, in 1979, the national Christmas tree was not expected to be lighted except for the top ornament. This was done in honour of the American hostages in Iran.
Some interesting facts:
The tallest living Christmas tree was 122 foot.
Christmas trees generally take 6-8 years to mature.
Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states including Hawaii and Alaska.
100,000 people are employed in the Christmas tree industry.
98% of all Christmas trees are grown on farms.
More than 1,000,000 acres of land have been planted with Christmas trees.
77 million Christmas trees are planted each year.
On average, over 2,000 Christmas trees are planted per acre.
You should never burn your Christmas tree in the fireplace. It can contribute to creosote buildup.
The best selling trees are Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir, and White Pine.