DEAD or ALIVE? by Montana Grant
By angelamontana

Posted: December 9, 2023

Christmas Trees are an annual tradition for many. The tree symbolizes the festive holiday season. Evergreens are green all year. The first holiday trees were on display when the pre-Germanic and Celtic tribes celebrated the annual Winter Solstice. Trees represented the “everlasting circle of life.”

Americans began the tradition when decorating for the Winter or Christmas holidays. Many early pioneers were religious outcasts from Europe but brought their Christian traditions with them. Pine trees were green year around and abundant. They smelled great and became a wonderful tradition. 

Back in the day, live lit candles adorned the live, green branches. This was certainly a fire hazard. Early live trees were only kept in the home for maybe a few days or a week. They did not begin putting up live trees a month or more ahead of time. The trees also were not up past the New Year’s. Live, fresh trees were placed in the home on Christmas Eve. This meant that the trees were still alive and less of a fire trap. Homes were also not as warm as an average house today. Cooler conditions kept the trees fresher longer. 

Other decorations were made from food scraps or other natural items from nature. Once the holiday was over, the tree was put back into nature to become mulch and nutrients for future trees. The food decorations could then be consumed by wildlife. 

If you are Pining over what type of tree to get, here are some choices.

Live/Fresh Cut evergreens.     There are many types of pine trees. Even Holly trees and cedars are a possibility. It depends on what is natural to your areas. Cutting your own live tree is the best. This tradition becomes a family activity and party. Many local public lands allow tree cutting for a small fee. For maybe $10 you can cut your own. Tree farms cost more and often charge by the foot. This will cost you maybe $40 to $100. Tree lots also sell trees that have been brought into the community. North central American states are home to many of these trees. 

A live tree adds a fresh smell, beautiful look, and a unique display. The trees will continue to breathe when added to water. Cutting smaller trees makes room for others. Thinning the forest makes for better fire protection and health of the ecosystems. Local trash companies will even pick up your trees for free and mulch them. 

Another live option is to buy a live, balled, tree. Once the holiday is over, you can plant it in the yard. Just dig the hole ahead of the cold weather. In this way, you have an indoor and outdoor tree. Some folks plant a few trees each year in the corner of their lot. It takes 3-5 years for a tree to get to the living room size. Once you have a succession of trees planted, you can enjoy your own harvest annually. 

Artificial Trees    Fake trees began in the late 1800’s. They are made from plastic, PVC, and metals today. Recycling them is not a practical option. 85% of fake trees are made in China. They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some even come with lights built in. They last for decades and take very little time to set up. 

Ultimately, a Christmas Tree is a personal choice. You can mimic a tree using skis, fishing rods, or paddles. Just search online for ideas. 

Whatever tree you select keep safety in mind. Use a power strip to support your plug ins. A nearby fire extinguisher is smart. Small decorations can be eaten by pets and kids. You want to avoid choking or poison issues. Keep real fire away from all your decorations. Once a flame starts, it can explode into a serious fire quickly. 

Happy Holidays!

Montana Grant

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