Christmas and is a REAL Tree the Way to Go?
Although it may seem easier and more convenient to go for an artificial tree when planning your Christmas decorations, you might like to consider a real tree this year!
A fake Christmas tree will never provide the beautiful fresh scent of pine!
Some history behind the Christmas tree
The real origins of Christmas trees appear to be rooted in present-day Germany during the Middle Ages when “Paradise Plays” were performed to celebrate the feast day of Adam and Eve, which fell on Christmas Eve - and a tree of knowledge was represented by an evergreen fir with apples tied to its branches.
The oldest Christmas tree market is thought to have been located just over the southwestern German border in Alsace (now in present-day France) where unadorned Christmas trees were sold during the 17th century as Weihnachtsbaum - German for Christmas tree. The “first decorated indoor tree” was recorded in 1605, in Strasbourg, adorned with roses, apples, wafers and other sweets.
References to Christmas trees in private homes or establishments in North America date back to the late 18th century and early 19th century while the image of a decorated tree with presents underneath has a very specific origin: an engraving of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and their children gathering around a Christmas tree published in the Illustrated London News in 1848. The premier women’s magazine in America back then, Godey’s Lady’s Book, reprinted a version of the image a couple of years later as “The Christmas Tree.”
This single image cemented the Christmas tree in the popular consciousness.
Meanwhile, the tradition of gigantic Christmas trees in public spaces seems to be an American one that dates back to the late 19th century. The electricity lobby pushed for the first “National Christmas Tree” at the White House as a publicity stunt for the glories of electricity when a nearly sixty-foot-tall balsam fir tree was erected and covered in two thousand five hundred light bulbs.
Fast forward to December 1964 when TIME magazine heralded a new Christmas trend: fake trees!
How to choose your REAL Christmas tree
- Look for a healthy tree with a shiny, glossy green coating on the needles which should feel slightly waxy to touch.
- The tree should have strong branches and good needle retention.
- Hold the tree you are looking at by the trunk and give it a gentle tap on the ground. While evergreens lose needles all year round, seeing more than a few fallen pine needles should alert you to reconsider your tree choice.
- When you have finalized your choice, ask for the tree to be wrapped in netting, if possible, to protect it on the journey home.
Of course, you may decide to buy a tree that is already growing in a large pot with its own soil and the roots intact. One that you can use year after year if it is cared for.
How to prepare your tree before decorating
- Once you take your tree home, remove any netting as soon as possible.
- Using a saw, cut an inch or two off the bottom of the trunk straight across. This will help the tree to take in water and stay fresh.
- Place the tree in a bucket of water in an upright position next to a fence or wall outdoors (out of direct sunlight if it is warm day) to prevent it drying out.
- Leave the tree to hydrate in the bucket for twenty four hours before bringing it indoors for the branches to settle.
How to choose the best position
It is important to avoid draughts and dehydration. So don't place the tree next to a radiator or fireplace. Also, keep away from doorways or sunny windows.
How to keep your tree in tip top condition
Ideally, the tree should have a reservoir so that water can be easily topped up - preferably daily. An average tree requires half a pint of water every day to ensure it looks good for the whole Christmas period. At the same time, add a drop or two of liquid fertilizer to the water. The nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium help to keep the foliage looking lush, to prevent the needles dropping and to stop the branches becoming brittle and dry.
Now for the fun part, decorating your REAL tree!
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