Christmas Trees can be artificial or natural. For natural trees, Silver Fir, Norway Spruce, and Noble Fir and Balsam Fir, Fraser Fir, Douglas, Scots and Stone Pines are widely used in North Europe and North America. But artificial trees are more convenient and more popular as they are less expensive.
In U.S. 70% of the trees are artificial. Modern artificial Christmas trees were first produced by the companies which made brushes. Initially the trees were made with pig bristles, plastic bristles, dyed pine green color, or twisted wires.
But the people dealing with environmental issues are not very satisfied with all the new things coming up as PVC trees are highly toxic. The experts opine that the dust or leaves from the trees should not be eaten or inhaled. Polythene trees are less toxic but more expensive than PVC trees.
Christmas tree decorations underwent several changes. In 16th century Christmas trees were decorated with roses which are generally associated with Virgin Mary. Paper roses, wafers, nuts, lighted candles, and sweets were the popular decorative items for the trees in 17th century. Till mid 19th century cookies, chains of popcorn, raisins, nuts and pretzels were used but in the later half of the century toys, bells, garlands and paper decorations were the most popular decorative items. Stars, angels, or flags were placed at the top of the tree. It was the Germans who provided the variety of ornaments to the world market ranging from butterflies, stars to miniature musical instruments.
The first known decorated Christmas tree was the one at Riga in Latvia in 1510. Georgian kings from Germany brought the first Christmas tree to England. The Royal Court was not following the custom of putting up Christmas trees at that point of the time. It was the Germans who started the tradition in 16th century with the pyramids of wood ornamented with evergreens and candles.
The popular story goes like this- It was a winter evening in Germany around 16th century. Martin Luther King was mesmerized by the sight of the glittering stars in the sky through the tree branches. He tried to explain his experience to his family. He took a small fir tree from the wood and brought it indoors and decorated it with candles. This is how the trend of decoration began.
The whole concept is based on the idea – evergreen trees are magical symbol of life. They remind us of the spring sunshine. Candles and electric lights are used as decorative items so that the light of spring can overshadow the darkness of winter.
Selection of Christmas trees is considered to be a great art. It is an annual tradition which marks the official start of this season. Otherwise there is temporary retail lot in shopping centers and discount stores.
Christmas trees had a long journey from the date of Martin Luther King till today. From religious icon the trees are transformed into a product of the growing Christmas industry. So, wait for more experiments!