The tradition of Christmas trees began centuries ago. Citizens of Alsace, France, bought trees to set up, unornamented, in their homes in 1510.
In Germany and Austria, traditions in the 1700s were to hang evergreen tips upside down. Often decorated with apples and nuts, these Christmas trees also earned the name ‘sugartrees.’
German settlers in Pennsylvania had community Christmas trees by 1747, yet most Americans still considered them pagan symbols in the 1840s.
The White House’s first Christmas tree was with President Franklin Pierce in 1853, around the time Christmas trees began to be sold in the United States.
Even so, only twenty percent of American families had Christmas trees in 1900. Twenty years later, it was a tradition in most American homes. The popularity of the trees brought shortages, leading to Christmas tree farms.
Artificial trees, available from the 1880s, were often used by poorer families.
After World War II, the demand for Christmas trees by nostalgic British soldiers exceeded the supply of evergreens. The Addis Brush Company of America, who had manufactured artificial brush trees since the 1930s, sold thousands of trees in Great Britain.
Addis then manufactured a Silver Pine tree, made of aluminum, in the 1950s. It was sold with a Christmas tree color wheel that illuminated the tree in different colors as it revolved.
Another fad began in the 1960s—flocked Christmas trees, where spray is added to resemble snowy branches.
Whether your preference is for real or artificial trees, Christmas trees remain a beautiful holiday tradition.
-Sandra Merville Hart
History.com Editors. “History of Christmas Trees,” History.com, 2019/08/15 https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees.
“History of Christmas Trees,” National Christmas Tree Association, 2019/08/15 https://www.realchristmastrees.org/dnn/Education/History-of-Christmas-Trees.
Waggoner, Susan. It’s A Wonderful Christmas, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2004.