Jimm Fowler is a lifelong student of trivia. Holding two degrees in history and one in communications, Jimm enjoys sharing trivia and facts.
15 Fun Christmas Tree Facts
When many of us think of getting ready for the holidays, one of the first things that comes to mind is ‘getting the tree up and decorated.’ The Christmas tree stands proudly in many homes, full of ornaments and multi-colored lights that glisten in the darkened room, wrapped presents sitting beneath it.
The Christmas tree is another tradition of the holiday season for millions of people worldwide. It traditionally is an evergreen conifer or fir, although pine and spruce are also used.
Did You Know?
Below is a list of 15 things you might not have known about the Christmas tree:
- The tradition of using the evergreen tree around the winter solstice goes back all the way to ancient Egypt!
- The Romans used to make wreaths of evergreen to hang on their front doors during the Roman holiday of Saturnalia.
- The lyrics to the song "O’ Tannenbaum" are often thought to mean the German word for ‘Christmas Tree’. They aren’t. Tannenbaum means ‘fir tree’ in German. However, "O’ Weihnachtsbaum" doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
- The idea of decorating the tree wasn’t initially done for people. In many cultures, wintertime was thought to bring evil spirits. By placing gifts (or sacrifices of grain and seeds, if you will) upon the trees, people hoped that birds and small animals would scare the evil spirits off.
- Decorating the tree (for people) started in Latvia in the early 1500s, but they didn’t use ornaments and tinsel. Back in those days, food was the number one way to decorate a tree: Gingerbread, sugar candy, apples, nuts, and berries were placed or tied onto the boughs for the family to eat.
- The Christmas tree that we know today is a German tradition that became popular when Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III (of Revolutionary War fame), insisted a tree be placed in the Queen’s Lodge in Windsor. Most people falsely believe it was Prince Albert, the consort to Queen Victoria, who started the tradition, but Charlotte had him beat by 40 years!
- Only rich people used to have a whole tree in their homes. For the poor, they would bring in branches of evergreen and decorate those on the mantlepiece of their fireplaces. Decorated trees were left outside and were generally a community endeavor to decorate.
- Christmas trees didn’t become popular in the United States until right before the Civil War. Americans were slow to adapt the tradition, which they saw as a pagan custom. German immigrants in eastern Pennsylvania were considered odd when they brought their customs over from Europe. It’s no wonder that the United States waited until 1870 to make Christmas a federal holiday!
- There are 25–30 million Christmas trees sold in the United States, each year.
- For every Christmas tree harvested, 1–3 seedlings are planted. At the time of this writing, there are 350 million Christmas trees growing in the United States.
- Buy American: All 50 states produce Christmas trees. Eighty percent of all artificial trees are manufactured in China and contain non-biodegradable plastic and metal.
- The top Christmas tree-producing states are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Washington.
- The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City is illuminated with 30,000 lights—all powered by solar energy!
- Since 1947, Westminster, England, gets a special holiday gift of a Christmas tree each year from their friends in Oslo, Norway, as a reminder of gratitude for helping Norway with the Nazis during World War Two.
- The annual Boston Christmas tree is donated to the city by the people of Nova Scotia, since 1971, as a goodwill gesture for offering help during a 1917 ship explosion that leveled part of the city of Halifax and killed nearly 2,000 people. It was the largest manmade explosion prior to the atomic bomb!