You Are At: AllSands Home > Home > History of the Christmas tree
HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE
An evergreen tree, decorated with lights and ornaments, is a regular part of Christmas festivities in over 33 million homes around the world.

The use of evergreen trees, wreaths and garlands as a symbol of eternal life was first practiced by Egyptians, Chinese and Hebrews. Many years before there even was such a thing as Christmas, Egyptians would bring green palm branches into their homes on the shortest day of the year in December. The palms would serve as a symbol of life's triumph over death.

Not long after, Romans adorned their homes with evergreens during Saturnalia, a winter festival that honored Saturnus, the god of agriculture. Druid priests would also, during the same time period, begin decorating oak trees with apples, which served as a symbol of life during their winter solstice celebration.

During the middle ages, an evergreen was dressed with red apples and termed, the Paradise tree. The Paradise tree symbolized the feast of Adam and Eve, which was held every December 24th.

The first recorded reference to the Christmas tree dates back to the 16th century when, in Strasbourg, Germany, families decorated fir trees with colored paper, fruits and sweets during the month of December. The popularity of the Christmas tree grew and grew. Charles Minnegrode introduced tree decorating as a custom in Virginia in 1842, and within 10 years, the first retail Christmas tree lot opened.

The Christmas tree was introduced to the voting public in the United States by Franklin Pierce, the 14th U.S. President., after he erected the first ever White House tree. Just a few years later, in 1923, President Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, which is now held every year on the White House lawn.


CHRISTMAS TREE BUYING TIPS

1. Don't buy more tree than your living space can handle. Remember that your stand and the star (or ornament) on top may add up to a foot or two more in height.

2. Look for a fresh tree. Grasp at a branch with your fingers and pull it toward you. All needles should be brightly colored and only a few should pull off.

TREE CARE TIPS

1. Never set up a tree near heating sources. This includes fireplaces, heaters and space heaters.

2. Once the tree is inside and set up, water it. Experts suggest giving your tree a gallon of fresh water in the first 24 hours. After that, make sure the tree stand watering dish is always full of fresh water. If you're not putting your tree up immediately, stand it in a cool, dry corner in a bucket of cool, fresh water.

3. Never make your tree stand fit the tree. Trimming from the sides of the tree will shorten it's freshness. Evergreens drink from its sides near the trunk.

4. Before putting your tree in its stand, trim 1/4 inch off it's base. Many trees that have been sitting on lots develop a hard, sap coating which prevents the tree from drinking water. You can aid your tree in staying fresh by trimming a piece of this hard material off the trunk.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF TREES


COLORADO BLUE SPRUCE is a popular, short needled tree that takes on an appealing symmetrical shape. Its handsome, hearty blue foliage makes this a strong, naturally shaped tree that requires very little shearing.

NORWAY SPRUCE is a pretty, short needled tree, but difficult to keep fresh. Needle retention is considered poor with this Spruce, unless the tree is cut fresh and kept properly watered. If you're up for a little extra work and attention though, the Norway Spruce makes a beautiful, natural green home for your decorations.

VIRGINIA PINE has short to medium length needles on stout, woody branches. This tree has been a staple for the Christmas tree industry for years because of its easy upkeep and long life.

BALSAM FIR is a medium sized tree with dense, dark green needles and cones. This is another popular Christmas decoration holder. Known for its dark, beautiful color, attractive shape, long lasting needles and pleasing fragrance, this is an easy to care for pick!

CANAAN FIR is relatively new to the tree market. It is similar to balsam firs in growth and appearance. This is a medium sized tree with light to medium colored needles.

DOUGLAS FIR, despite it's name, is not related to true firs. This is a dark green to blue green colored tree with small to medium sized needles. With a sweet fragrance and large, well shaped branches, this has been one of the most popular Christmas trees for centuries.

WHITE SPRUCE has a beautiful, natural color and short, stiff needles that hold together its natural shape. Needle retention is excellent in the White Spruce, and they are easy to maintain.

SCOTCH PINE has 1-3 inch soft-looking needles. Its branches are stiff and hold heavy decorations well. The dark green color and "full" appearance make this tree a popular choice!

TODAY
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, North American Christmas trees are grown in 50 U.S. states and Canada, accounting for 1 million acres of live commercial evergreens. The Christmas tree has come to hold different meanings for different generations and religious groups.