There was a time I thought the only decision that had to be made about a Christmas tree was choosing between a real tree and an artificial tree. While working at a tree care company, I realized there’s a lot more to the Christmas tree than that:
Not All People Put Their Christmas Tree Up At The Same Time: Most American families put their tree up on Thanksgiving weekend. Some communities put up the tree on December 6 to honor St. Nicholas. Tradition dictates the Christmas tree is put up 12 days before Christmas. And if your family follows Catholic tradition, you’ll put your tree up on Christmas Eve.
Some Tree Species Are Naturally More Aromatic Than Others: I used to think that an aromatic tree meant that the tree was fresh, but that’s not actually true. Some species of Christmas trees are naturally more aromatic. The most fragrant Christmas trees are in the Fir family—Fraser Fir, Concolor Fir, Douglas Fir, Balsam Fir. The Colorado Blue Spruce and White Spruce each have needles that produce a very unpleasant odor when they are crushed (stepped on).
Some Trees Hold Ornaments Better Than Others: The White Pine and Douglas Fir have soft needles and pliable branches; so heavy ornaments tend to fall off these trees. Conversely, the White Spruce and Noble Fir both have stiff needles so they can withstand the weight of Christmas ornaments.
Needles on Christmas Trees Fall At Different Rates Depending on the Species: While some trees shed needles when they dry out, it isn’t necessarily a clue that the tree is old. As different breeds of dogs shed more than others, some trees shed needles more so than others. Scotch Pine needles don’t even fall when the tree is dry. The White Spruce has the best needle retention within the Spruce family.
Replanting a Tree After Christmas Works Better With Some Species Than Others: In addition to chopping the tree for firewood or throwing it away, you now have a third option as to what to do with your Christmas tree after the holidays—you can replant it. If this is what you want to do, you’ll need to purchase a tree with a healthy root ball and even then, the odds of success aren’t necessarily with you. To increase your odds, buy a Scotch Pine. It has the greatest chance of survival.
If Someone in Your Home is Allergic to Sap, This is The Tree For You: The Leyland Cypress, the most popular species of Christmas tree in the Southeast U.S., is the only Christmas tree that does not produce sap.
You May Need To Cut a Little Off The Bottom When You Get Your Tree Home: When trees are cut and exposed to the elements, they grow a “seal” to save the tree from harmful elements; this is similar to a scab on a person. This also makes it impossible for the tree to drink water when you place it in the Christmas tree stand. If you buy a tree that wasn’t sitting in a bucket of water when you bought it, you want to cut ¼ to ½ inch off the base so it can absorb water to remain healthy.
Aspirin or Commercial Additives Do NOT Help The Tree: When I was a kid, my Mom put an aspirin in the Christmas tree water every day. She said it helped the tree stay healthy. Since then, commercial additives, which profess to keep the tree healthier, have been created. These additives can actually harm your tree. Just be sure you are keeping the water level above the base of the tree in the tree stand. That is the best way to keep your tree healthy through the Holiday Season.
You Can Order a Christmas Tree Online: You can order a Christmas tree online and have it shipped to your home! For those who cannot get to a tree farm, are housebound or want a species of tree that isn’t available in their community, online Christmas tree shopping solves the problem!
The Three Most Common Dates To Take Down Your Christmas Tree: Some people believe that if you leave your Christmas tree up over the New Year, you drag this year’s bad luck into next year. Therefore, the tree must be down before the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.
January 5 is traditionally considered the Twelfth Day of Christmas, thus ending the Christmas season. Therefore, people take the Christmas tree down on this date.
Christians celebrate the Epiphany on January 6 and mark the Christian holiday by taking down the Christmas tree on this date.
Photo: Sabina Varkey