Christmas Trees: Not as They Seem

Christmas Trees: Not as They Seem

Adventuring out on a cold December day, family by your side, to find the perfect tree. Decorating your home with Christmas trees is a tradition that dates back to 16th-century Germany with the advent of the Yule tree. The tradition had spread to the rest of Europe and the United States by the 1800s. The tree quickly became a symbol of Christianity, as it was used to represent the paradise tree from the Adam and Eve story.

Since then, cutting your own tree year after year has become a common practice for many. However, with approximately 30 million trees being sold every winter, one has to wonder where they come from.

Christmas tree farms are traditionally family-owned and operated businesses that will plant anywhere from 3-5,000 trees of varying species each year. However, a Christmas tree is always an evergreen meaning that it keeps its leaves year round. They are typically of the pine, fir or spruce family.

“I have some very rare [tree] varieties: a normani fir, silver fir and cinco fir, among many others,” Gettysburg Tree Farm owner Micheal Breighner said.

Over a seven-year period, the trees will continue to grow about a foot a year. Once they reach six to seven feet, they are ready to be sold to a loving home. With such a large number of trees, it’s only natural that some go unsold each year. If year after year no one buys a tree then it will continue to grow. This means that some trees will reach heights approaching 30 feet.

“And those trees that don’t get sold, that go from year to year and get big and get beautiful, we just sit back and admire them.” Breighner said.

Farms like the Gettysburg Christmas Tree Farm don’t grow trees with the hope of getting rich. The families running these farms do it for the beauty of the trees and for the people that come back year after year to cut down their own trees.

“We look upon what we do as an art form, not a rush and hurry,” Breighner said.

Lots of these trees are grown right here on the East Coast. Pennsylvania has over 1,400 tree farms that produce approximately one million trees every year.

There is more than one type of Christmas tree. In fact, over the decades many different species have been popular. The traditional tree that is often seen in holiday media is a Scotch pine. The Scotch pine has been a top seller for years, especially in the sixties.

After the Scotch pine lost popularity, the Douglas fir reigned, which has a more conical shape when compared to the Scotch pine and a sweet scent. However, the fir does not live as long once cut as the pine. This means that the tree won’t last as long in your home. Currently, the tree of preference is the Fraser fir, a  a dark green hue and will fill a house with a sweet pine scent, perfect for setting a holiday mood.

Cutting down a tree is a beloved tradition for lots of families. No matter what tree you and your family decide to get, you are sure to have a good time. Whether you’re cutting your own or decorating with your family, a good tree is an integral part of the holiday season.

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About the Contributor
Jackson Weber, Reporter
Jackson Weber is a sophomore beginning his first year on The Yorktown Sentry. Jackson is looking forward to keeping the students of Yorktown informed and entertained. He loves being a part of the Yorktown community, especially the robotics team. When he's not hanging out with friends he enjoys spending his time at the rock climbing gym honing his skills.

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