10 Facts about Christmas Trees
1) The average Christmas tree typically takes 8 years to grow from a sapling. The sapling itself is 3 years old – so if you are a fan of a real tree, it’s most likely to be over 10 years old.
2) All trees are hand pruned every year to improve their shape whilst they grow and to also guarantee that they are conical in shape. We don’t want a ‘boxy’ tree now do we?!
3) Britain’s distaste against Germany was prominent well before both World Wars. The Christmas tree was first introduced at a children’s party in the early 1800’s held by Queen Victoria’s German grandmother, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. However, this German influence didn’t go down too well with members of the British Royal Court; therefore the trend of the Christmas tree was stopped in its tracks and didn’t really expand outside of the royal family. Queen Victoria was a very popular monarch and when she married her German cousin, Prince Albert, the custom of the Christmas tree became more mainstream due to the popularity of the royal couple. The Christmas tree had become a staple in the display of Christmas: although, in Britain, it was classed more as a custom for the wealthy as opposed to households in Berlin where regardless of what class you belonged to, you most likely had a Christmas tree.
4) As we all know, some of the most famous Christmas trees around the world are those placed outside presidential and government houses. In 1856, President Franklin Pierce was the first president of the United States to place a Christmas tree inside the White House. The United States’ National Christmas Tree was made public on the South Lawn of the White House in 1923 and has been an ‘icon’ of Christmas ever since. In 1963, the National Christmas Tree wasn’t lit until December 22nd, due to the national 30-day mourning period following President Kennedy’s assassination.
5) The most commonly used species are fir, which have the advantage of not shedding their needles when they dry out – a must for many families with pets or small children! Fraser Fir and Norway Spruce are probably the most popular type of tree throughout the UK.
6) Germany are responsible for the innovative idea of the artificial tree. They were concerned about the effects which the cultivation of trees were having on the environment. The solution? Goose feathers! These ‘trees’ were made using goose feathers that were dyed green, to mimic a real tree.
7) Your Christmas tree may drink 1-2 litres of water each day, depending on the size of it and your central heating settings. Don’t place your tree in soil or sand as this blocks the tree’s pores making it unable to soak up the water, which shortens the life of your tree.
8) The Christmas tree is a tradition which stems back earlier than Christ and isn’t exclusive to any one religion. Trees symbolise life and have been traced back to the Egyptians. They walked around with palm branches on the shortest day of the year as an honour that life had conquered death. Trees engage our senses but also carry on a tradition of symbolising life and good will.
9) The Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree is probably the most famous Christmas tree in the world. It was first officially introduced at the Rockefeller Centre in 1933, even though an unofficial tradition began in 1931 where workers decorated a small tree with cranberries and tin cans. The trees are specially scouted each year – or they are donated. In 2007, the tree went ‘eco’ by using LED lights which can last for 25,000 – 100,000 hours due to them running via a low current and at a low temperature. A key advantage of swapping to LEDs is that if one bulb blows, then the rest still remain lit – comes in handy when the tree is over 50 feet tall! Be grateful that you don’t have to decorate a tree that size!
10) Recycle your tree by finding out where your nearest waste site is – the council usually designate a section to recycling Christmas trees. The trees can be shredded to make chippings or can be turned into compost.