People have visited forests to select their Christmas trees for centuries. While tree sellers conveniently stationed in store parking lots and artificial trees displayed in various retailers have led fewer people to venture into the wilderness, the Christmas tree is still an important component of holiday celebrations.
Long before the spread of Christianity, evergreen plants and trees held special meaning for people during the winter. Boughs and garlands were hung in homes and over doors and windows to repel evil spirits and illnesses. On the winter solstice, the greenery would represent that spring would once again arrive and banish winter's dreariness.
Germans who decorated trees inside of their homes are credited with starting Christian Christmas tree traditions during the 16th century. Early Americans were late to adopt Christmas trees because early Puritan settlers thought the tradition - as well as carols and other concepts - were Pagan influences. It took the popularity of England's Queen Victoria and her German Prince Albert appearing around a decorated Christmas tree to eventually win over much of Europe, Canada and the United States.
Trees are very popular today. According to StatisticsBrain, 10 million artificial trees are sold in the United States each year, while 34.5 million real tress are sold annually. Such trees require decorating, and the following secrets and tips can help celebrants do just that.
· Prune the tree first. Be sure to shape the tree as desired, since natural trees will have branches sticking out. Wear gardening gloves to avoid being covered in sap.
· Position trees away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, vents or radiators, which can cause the tree to dry out prematurely and become a fire risk.
· For added safety, anchor a tree to a wall or ceiling, so it will not tumble over onto children or curious pets.
· In homage of the first German Christmas trees, decorate with natural ingredients, such as berries and pinecones. Also, use apples, nuts and marzipan candies.
· To free up more space for presents, place a narrow tree stand inside of a waterproof planting container. Place the tree inside. This will provide a more streamlined look that's neater than a tree skirt.
· The more lights the better, especially on dense trees.
· For a whimsical approach, match the tree decor to home decor and the color of furniture.
· Make handcrafted ornaments with the whole family.
· Hang the most delicate pieces toward the top where they won't be disturbed.
· Step back and enjoy your handiwork, which will also give you a chance to find any blank spots that need filling in.
Tree trimming is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the holiday season, and there are no rules other than safety guidelines when it comes to decorating.