With only a few weeks to go, love it or loathe it, the festive season is nearly upon us! So we need to ask ourselves that annual question – real or fake?
Yes fake Christmas trees will last for an eternity, after a good dusting off every December but can you beat the smell of a fresh Fir and the festive feelings it evokes? This evergreen tree has been used for thousands of years by Pagans and Christians alike, albeit with a slightly different message. The pagans used the branches to decorate their homes to celebrate the approaching Spring whereas Christians used it as a sign of the everlasting life with God.
Many of the earliest Christmas trees were hung upside down from the ceiling. Would certainly stop the cat dragging off all the baubles! If you were too poor for a real tree then you could supplement one for a wooden pyramid, decorated with paper and candles. Maybe I could suggest that as an option this year?
The first official use of a Christmas tree is claimed by Latvia in the Middle Ages. The trees were displayed in the town square, danced around and then set fire. There is a picture from Germany in 1521 showing a tree being carried through the town. However, the first person to bring a decorated tree into the house may have been Martin Luther in the 1500’s.
In Germany the first trees were decorated with edible things like gingerbread and apples. Glass makers soon saw the potential and started making small ornaments that we recognise today as baubles. For real Christmas trees in Leicestershire try www.welfordchristmastreefarm.co.uk.
The first trees to arrive in Britain came later in the 1830’s and were made popular in the Victorian era. The trees would have been adorned with candles and of course candles are still very much a part of our modern decorating habits.
Artificial trees increased in popularity during the 20th century and have been made from feathers, metal, paper, glass and plastic. The tallest artificial was 52m high and covered in green pvc leaves. Depending on where you are in the world will effect what tree you will consider as part of Christmas tradition. New Zealand favours a tree with red flowers and in India you will see Mango and Banana trees being decorated.
So artificial trees may be cheap but environmentally the PVC involved is pretty grim stuff and I can’t see them breaking down in the landfill for a good many Christmases to come. Real trees are better for the environment and can be sourced locally but can you bear the needles that will haunt your carpet throughout the festivities?