The Magic Of The Christmas Tree

by Robyn Goss-Bennai // October - November - December 2020

Even before the advent of Christianity, evergreens had been used for some time as decorations by many people for various celebrations. The tradition of evergreen trees used for Christmas decorating began in Germany during the 16th century. And it is believed that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, was the first to add lighted candles to a Christmas tree to emulate the beauty of twinkling stars among the evergreens that he had observed on his walk home one night.

The Christmas trees used throughout the centuries were found in the forest and then eventually cultivated by farmers. While I must admit that I have been lured by the ease of using an artificial tree in the past, I know there is nothing more relaxing and grounding during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season than sitting and enjoying the aroma of a freshly cut tree. What great fortune it is that we live in North Carolina where a plethora of live trees can be found.

Some of my favorite childhood memories are traveling to Ashe County where my father was born and raised and seeing the Christmas trees in various states of growth on all the many farms. North Carolina is well-known for its Christmas trees and here are just a few of the interesting facts about their production here in our state:

– Christmas trees are grown in every state including Hawaii. North Carolina is ranked second in the number of trees harvested and produces over 26% of trees grown in the United States, which amounts to over 5 million trees harvested annually.
– North Carolina Fraser fir trees represent 94% of all species grown in North Carolina and 25% of trees grown nationally.
– North Carolina has over 1,300 Christmas tree growers with approximately 58 million trees growing on 40,000 acres.
– Fraser firs are native to Western Appalachian Mountains.
– The top five Christmas tree producing counties in North Carolina are Ashe, Avery, Alleghany, Watauga, and Jackson.
– The North Carolina Fraser fir is a 13-time winner of the national competition for the honor of displaying a tree in the White House – more than any other state and tree species in the nation!
– It takes as long as 12 years to grow a tree to an average retail height of 6-7 feet, and during its life, has been visited by the grower more than 100 times.

Knowing the great care that is taken to grow and harvest these trees by farmers who live mostly in the western part of the state makes me mindful of the environmental benefits of live tree harvests. I love that live trees are completely renewable and recyclable. Every acre of Christmas trees grown produces a daily oxygen rate for 18 people. These farmers are often using soil that is unsuitable for other types of vegetation while protecting water supplies, minimizing soil erosion, and providing refuge for wildlife.

I have heard concerns about keeping cut trees alive and ensuring they are safe to have in the home. The North Carolina Christmas Tree Association offers much information on its website and here are a few of their suggestions specific to tree care:

– Use a stand that will hold a gallon of water and check the water levels often. Your tree may need as much as a gallon of water in the first 24 hours.
– Place the tree away from heat sources such as vents, fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators, and sunny windows.
– Do not overload electric circuits.
– Be sure to turn off the lights before leaving home or going to bed.

I hope you are able to find the perfect tree for your family this Christmas, whether it’s from a local seller or you take a trip to our magnificent mountains to choose a tree for yourself. I love the idea of visiting a farm and choosing a tree to be cut down and brought back home. For those of you looking for a more adventurous route to finding the tree of your Christmas dreams, perhaps you will visit a farm that will take you on horseback winding your way through them to find that special one.

A special thank you to the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association for the information provided, and the beautiful photo. Visit ncchristmastrees.com for more Christmas tree information.

Robyn Goss-Bennai

A local writer and lover of adventure and all things fun.