There are many types of Christmas trees, and their advantages make them great for specific needs. Whether you love a Christmas tree with fat branches or long, slender stems to display your ornaments, you’ll find here facts about the many types of Christmas trees available in the United States and the advantages of each.
What Are the Major Types of Christmas Trees?
I’ll share the history of the Christmas tree after information on the types of Christmas trees and their advantages. Below, you’ll find some of the most popular types of Christmas trees and the benefits they offer for your festive decor.
The Fraser Fir is a popular choice for Christmas trees, known for its excellent needle retention and pleasing aroma. This tree has sturdy branches that can hold even the heaviest ornaments, making it a practical choice for those with a penchant for extensive holiday decorating. Fraser Firs are also known for their dark green needles, providing an attractive backdrop for lights and decorations.
- Great needle retention, minimizing cleanup.
- Strong branches that can support heavy ornaments.
- Pleasing fragrance that fills your home with holiday cheer.
The Balsam Fir is a classic choice for Christmas trees. It is known for its traditional pyramid shape and vibrant green needles. Its pleasant aroma adds to the holiday atmosphere, and its soft needles are ideal for decorating with lights, tinsel, and delicate ornaments. Balsam Firs are also relatively affordable, making them an accessible option for many families.
- Traditional Christmas tree appearance.
- Aromatic and festive fragrance.
- Affordable and widely available.
Douglas Firs are another popular choice for Christmas trees. They are characterized by their lush, soft needles and pyramid shape. These trees are often used for their classic look and full branches, which provide ample space for decorations. The branches of a Douglas Fir are well-suited for stringing lights and hanging ornaments, and their fresh scent adds to the holiday ambiance.
- Full and lush appearance.
- Ideal for heavy decorations.
- Attractive fragrance for a festive atmosphere.
The Noble Fir is a popular choice on the West Coast of the United States and is known for its tall, symmetrical shape and beautiful silver-blue needles. This tree’s branches are robust and can hold a variety of ornaments, while its sturdy needles ensure minimal shedding. The Noble Fir’s fragrance is subtle and crisp, adding to the holiday spirit.
- Tall and symmetrical shape.
- Strong branches for decorating.
- Subtle and crisp fragrance.
Caring for a Live Christmas Tree
The National Christmas Tree Association suggests the following care tips for your live tree:
- Keep the water reservoir on the tree stand full and always use a stand with a water reservoir for a live Christmas tree.
- Make a fresh cut once you buy the tree and before you put it in the tree stand.
- Keep the tree outside in a cool location if you can’t put it up right away.
- Set the tree in the stand as soon as you bring it indoors.
- Using miniature lights reduces drying since they produce less heat.
- Keep trees away from radiators, fireplaces and other heat sources.
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The History of the Christmas Tree
I wanted to title this post, “Everything you ever wanted to know about Christmas trees but were afraid to ask” but that sounded kind of silly. Whether you love a real tree like I do or you choose a pre lit Christmas tree, an artificial tree, or a funky vintage aluminum Christmas tree, the history and symbolism of Christmas trees is absolutely fascinating.
Christmas Trees in Pre-Christian Tradition
Throughout many pre-Christian traditions, keeping evergreen boughs indoors, especially near the date of the Winter Solstice, was a popular tradition. Evergreens mysteriously kept their color and leaves when all the world seemed barren; to bring the boughs indoors might placate the woodland gods and help summer return.
Christmas in the Middle Ages: Tannenbaum
In the 15th and 16th century in what is now Germany, the tannenbaum or Christmas tree became popular. Christmas trees began as small ornamental evergreens, usually just the tops, cut off and nailed to wooden planks to stand up. They were decorated with fruit, nuts or little cakes. In the 17th and 18th centuries, small candles were used to light the tree, possibly another tradition to repel the winter darkness. Candles remained popular (but dangerous) well into the 20th century.
Victorian Era: The Christmas Tree Comes to Great Britain
The Christmas tree became part of the worldwide Christmas celebration in the Victorian Age. Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, came from Germany, and brought with him the Christmas traditions from his land. Soon, British families all wanted a Christmas tree, and each year they seemed to get bigger and more elaborate. Ornaments were now fashioned from crocheted materials, beads, and shiny pieces of foil. For a long time, ornaments were handmade, and garlands were made of popcorn, candies or cranberries. Most family Christmas trees were a humble affair in times past.
Valery Madelyn Christmas Ball Ornaments, 9ct Red Green and Gold Shatterproof
Early 20th Century Trees
My father loved to tell stories of Christmas day in his childhood apartment in the Bronx. His mother would light the candles on the tree once, and only once, on Christmas morning. She would hold a bucket of water at the ready in case the tree ignited! Then he and his brother had to blow out all the candles. I imagine it must have been like a gigantic birthday cake or something. Today, of course, strands of colorful lights are used instead of candles.
Christmas Tree Stands and Live Trees
Electric Christmas tree stands for live trees became popular in the 1920s. Many Art Deco Christmas tree stands are beautiful works of art in and of themselves. I grew up with one such tree stand. It featured a heavy cast iron base adorned with poinsettia and green leaves. Lightbulbs screwed into each of the centers of the poinsettia, and the entire tree lit from the stand up. My sister has the tree stand now, although if I really wanted it, I’ve found them on that great marketplace for all things vintage: eBay!
Decorative Christmas tree stands remained popular until the 1950s, but were soon replaced with the prosaic and less expensive metal stands that could be assembled for Christmas, and dis-assembled and stored flat. Today, plastic cup-like stands that look rather like oversized Legos can be found that are a bit sturdier and hold more water for your Christmas tree.
Pre-Lit Christmas Trees and Artificial Trees
The first artificial Christmas trees were also developed in Germany. Surprisingly, they were made in the late 1800s. Goose feathers were dyed green and affixed to stems. Until the 1950s, most artificial Christmas trees were made from brushes affixed to stems, and looked terrible. A company in Chicago, according to Wikipedia, created the first aluminum Christmas tree in 1958. Do you remember those things? I used to be fascinated by them. Today you can still see them in some homes. I’m not sure whether I love or hate them, but they sure are eye-catching!
Today, of course, you can purchase beautiful artificial Christmas trees that look just like the real thing. Pre lit trees, available from Lowe’s, Home Depot and a variety of other stores, are also a great addition to the Christmas decorations. They make it much faster and easier to put up the tree!