RockefellerTree copy

The Rockefeller Center.

This year over 100 million homes around the world will have a Christmas tree. From the White House to my house, there will be Christmas trees everywhere.

Since I was a child, I have always been excited about putting up a Christmas tree with my family and decorating it in our living room. In our house, like many homes, the Christmas tree is the center piece of our Christmas decorating.

There are many facts about Christmas trees that I did not know when I was small which I find fascinating. History says that the first use of evergreen foliage as interior decoration was actually a Pagan practice before the advent of Christianity.

German Pagans believed that evergreen trees, because they remained green in winter, held special mystic powers. The Pagans would bring the branches into their homes in winter to ward off evil spirits, witches and ghosts. It wasn’t until after the advent of Christianity, that in the 1600’s, the German Christians were credited with beginning the tradition of decorating Christmas trees in their homes.

Largest Lighted Live Christmas tree copy

The largest lighted tree.

It has been said that in as late as 1840, American Christians still viewed the idea of Christmas trees as Pagan and odd. Only after 1846, when English Queen Victoria was reported to have embraced the idea of the Christmas tree, did it become fashionable among the social elite in the Eastern United States.

Today we have too many choices! Real or fake, tall or short, skinny or fat? We have all sizes and sorts. The largest real decorated Christmas tree is a Douglas fir in Blue River, Oregon. It is over 150 feet tall and is decorated every Christmas with over 50,000 lights. (The one at Rockefeller Center comes in around 80 feet and has 25,000+ lights.)

The largest artificial Christmas tree ever made was in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and was 170 feet tall. Its artificial foliage was green pvc.

Regarding the “real vs fake” Christmas tree, where do you stand? I have seen pros and cons with both. The fake ones are cheaper because you keep them year after year, they don’t shed needles, and I think maybe we get emotionally attached to the family Christmas tree.

On the other hand, the fake Christmas trees get replaced and thrown in landfills, they are likely not locally made, and they don’t smell like fresh pine needles (and they probably don’t ward off witches and evil spirits like the real ones).

The Berlin Mall.

The Berlin Mall.

Some of the pros of real Christmas trees are that they are often grown and bought locally, they are renewable and recyclable, and the tradition of choosing one and cutting it down is quite important to many families.

The cons for me are the repeated cost of $30 to $100 a year, the shedding needles, and disposal vs just storing it in the attic for next year.

The trivia and the history of the Christmas tree are fun, but the fact is, many of us have liked the Christmas tree since before we even knew why we liked it.

Christmas should be a joyful time when we celebrate the birth of Christ and count our blessings. It should be a time to share old traditions and make new memories.

I think the Christmas tree represents the beauty and wonder of this special season and I hope the tradition continues for many years to come.

By James Oaks

(James Oaks can be reached at 417-483-3430 or Trusdad@gmail.com.)