All About Real Christmas Trees - Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQ )

Do you ever wonder when Christmas trees became a thing? Or what the best species of Christmas tree is for people with allergies? Or on a more serious note, how accidents involving Christmas trees could have been prevented? We here at Patton’s Christmas Trees are fascinated with all things TREE, so we did the research. Here is what we found:

For Frequently Asked Questions about Patton’s Christmas Tree tree lot location & hours, Christmas tree care instructions and safety information – visit our Patton’s Christmas Trees FAQ page.

The tradition of decorating trees for Christmas became popular during the Middle Ages in Germany, when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. During this same time period, some people built wooden pyramids and adorned them with evergreens garlands and candles. Christmas decorations such as wreaths, mistletoe, holly, and lights have different origins and meanings. Some are related to ancient pagan festivals, such as Saturnalia and Yule, while others are symbols of Christianity, such as the star of Bethlehem and the Christ candle.

German settlers that immigrated from Europe to America in the 18th century are credited with bringing the tradition of decorating evergreen trees with candles, ornaments, and other decorations to celebrate the Christmas holiday. 

The tradition of bringing evergreen trees indoors and decorating them for Christmas is believed to have originated in Germany in the 16th century according to most sources. However, some sources state that both Tallin (in Estonia) and Riga (in Latvia) claim that their country came up with the concept of the Christmas tree. Either way, all sources agree that the Christmas tree had become very popular in Germany by the end of the 1500's (the 16th century).

However, back then the tree was referred to as a "Paradise Tree" and was adorned with apples as a symbol of the biblical forbidden fruit. In the same room as the 'Paradise Tree', there would also be a triangular wooden structure decorated with evergreens, candles, and a star, called a “Christmas pyramid.” By the 16th century, the 'Christmas pyramid' and the 'Paradise Tree' had merged to become the 'Christmas Tree'!

The practice became more widespread during the 19th century when Prince Albert of Germany, who married Queen Victoria of England, introduced the Christmas tree to the British Royal Family. This soon spread to other parts of Europe and eventually to the United States and the rest of the world.

By the 20th century, the Christmas tree had become a common symbol of the holiday season in many cultures, and obviously it remains a beloved tradition to this day.

The Pennsylvania Dutch, a group of German-speaking immigrants that settled in Pennsylvania, are often credited with introducing the Christmas tree tradition to America in the 18th century. In fact, the first recorded Christmas tree in America was set up by these German settlers in Pennsylvania in 1747. Other sources say that the first record of a Christmas tree in the United States dates back to the 1830s. 

Over time, the practice of having Christmas trees spread to other communities and became more widespread throughout the country. Today, the Christmas tree is an iconic symbol of the holiday season in the United States and is celebrated by people of various cultural backgrounds.

Some interesting facts about Christmas trees are:

  1. Origins in Germany: The tradition of bringing evergreen trees indoors and decorating them for Christmas is believed to have originated in Germany in the 16th century.

  2. First Artificial Trees: The first artificial Christmas trees were made in Germany in the 19th century. They were made of green-dyed goose feathers.

  3. Tallest Christmas Tree: The tallest Christmas tree ever recorded stood at a staggering 221 feet (67 meters) tall. It was erected in the town of Dortmund, Germany, in 2014.

  4. Edible Decorations: Early Christmas trees were adorned with edible decorations like fruits, nuts, and cookies, which were enjoyed by the whole family.

  5. Environmental Impact: Real Christmas trees are often more environmentally friendly than artificial ones, as they are biodegradable and can be recycled into mulch after use.

  6. Rockefeller Center Tradition: The tradition of lighting the enormous Christmas tree at New York City's Rockefeller Center dates back to 1933 and has become a widely televised event.

  7. Record-Breaking Ornaments: The largest Christmas ornament ever made was over 15 feet (4.5 meters) in diameter, created in Canada in 2010.

  8. Largest Collection: The Guinness World Record for the largest collection of Christmas trees in one place is held by a family in the UK, who had amassed over 2,000 trees as of my knowledge cutoff in 2021.

  9. Tree-Climbing Goats: In Morocco, goats have been known to climb Argan trees to eat the fruit, and occasionally, they've been spotted in Christmas trees.

  10. Space Christmas Trees: Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have celebrated Christmas by decorating small Christmas trees while in orbit.

Since Patton's sells Fir trees, here's some Fir Facts!

  • Scientific name: Abies fraseri
  • Evergreen Beauty: Fir trees are known for their year-round green foliage, making them a symbol of life and renewal.
  • Longevity: Some fir trees can live for several centuries, with some species reaching ages of 500 years or more.
  • Tallest Fir: The Coast Redwood, a type of fir tree, is one of the tallest tree species in the world, with some reaching heights over 350 feet (107 meters).
  • Cones: Fir trees produce distinctive upright cones, which stand upright on the branches. These cones disintegrate to release seeds.
  • Soft Needles: Fir tree needles are usually soft to the touch, making them more comfortable to handle than the needles of some other evergreen trees.
  • Christmas Tradition: Fir trees, especially the Balsam Fir and Fraser Fir, are popular choices for Christmas trees due to their pleasant aroma and sturdy branches.
  • Medicinal Uses: Historically, various parts of fir trees have been used for their medicinal properties, such as remedies for respiratory ailments.
  • Habitat: Firs are found in diverse habitats, from mountainous regions to temperate forests, and they are an important part of many ecosystems.
  • Timber: Fir wood is valued for its strength and is commonly used in construction for lumber, plywood, and furniture.
  • Symbolism: Fir trees have symbolic significance in various cultures, often representing resilience, hope, and eternal life.

Using a real Christmas tree instead of an artificial one has several benefits:

  1. Renewable Resource: Real Christmas trees are a renewable resource since they are grown on tree farms and can be replanted and harvested each year.

  2. Carbon Sequestration: While growing, real Christmas trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping to mitigate climate change by acting as carbon sinks.

  3. Natural Scent: Real trees have a pleasant, natural scent that many people associate with the holiday season.

  4. Support for Local Economies: Purchasing real Christmas trees supports local tree farmers and the rural economy.

  5. Biodegradable: After the holiday season, real Christmas trees can be recycled into mulch, used for erosion control, or composted, contributing to a more sustainable waste management.

  6. Reduced Environmental Impact: Compared to the energy-intensive production and disposal of artificial trees, real trees typically have a lower environmental impact over their lifecycle.

  7. Aesthetic Appeal: Some people prefer the authentic and traditional look and feel of a real Christmas tree.

The choice between a real or artificial Christmas tree depends on individual preferences, environmental considerations, and local availability. Artificial trees can be reused for several years, reducing the need for tree harvesting, but they are typically made from non-renewable materials and have a larger carbon footprint from their manufacturing and transportation

Several world records have been achieved involving Christmas trees. Here are a few notable examples:

  1. Tallest Cut Christmas Tree: The Guinness World Record for the tallest cut Christmas tree was achieved in 1950 when a tree measuring 221 feet (67.36 meters) tall was erected in a Washington shopping mall. This record still stands.

  2. Largest Gathering of Christmas Trees: In 2015, the city of Wakefield in the United Kingdom set a record for the largest gathering of Christmas trees. They had 2,018 Christmas trees displayed in a single location.

  3. Most Christmas Trees Planted in One Hour: In 2017, volunteers in Ireland set a record for planting the most Christmas trees in one hour. They planted 1,064 trees during a community event.

  4. Largest Human Christmas Tree: In 2014, a shopping center in Colombia organized an event that created the largest human Christmas tree, with 2,945 participants forming the shape of a Christmas tree.

These records showcase the creativity and community spirit that can surround the use of real, fresh-cut Christmas trees in various festive events and celebrations around the world.

If you or someone in your household has allergies, it's generally a good idea to choose a Christmas tree with minimal allergenic potential. In this case, you may want to consider a species like the Fraser fir. Fraser fir Christmas trees are known for having low allergenicity because they have certain characteristics that can help reduce allergen exposure:

  1. Low Pollen Production: Fraser fir trees typically produce less pollen compared to some other tree species, which can be a common allergen.

  2. Good Needle Retention: These trees often have excellent needle retention, which means they're less likely to shed allergenic tree debris like pollen and needles into the indoor environment.

  3. Less Resin: Fraser firs tend to have lower levels of resin, reducing the likelihood of allergic reactions to tree sap.

However, it's essential to remember that even low-allergenic trees can still carry some allergens. To further minimize allergen exposure, you can take additional precautions:

  • Shake the Tree: Before bringing the tree indoors, have it shaken to remove loose needles and debris that may contain allergens.
  • Use an Air Purifier: Consider using an air purifier with a HEPA filter in the room where you place the tree to help capture airborne allergens.
  • Frequently Water the Tree: Keeping the tree well-watered can help reduce the release of allergenic particles.

Ultimately, individual allergies vary, so it's a good idea to consult with an allergist or healthcare professional for personalized advice on selecting a Christmas tree if you have specific concerns about allergies.

Fraser firs: The best Fraser fir trees in the United States are primarily grown in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, specifically in the region around the Blue Ridge Mountains. (This is where the Fraser fir trees at Patton's Christmas Trees come from!) Fraser fir trees thrive in the cool, moist climate and high elevations of this area. North Carolina is renowned for producing high-quality Fraser fir Christmas trees due to its suitable growing conditions. Fraser firs are known for being well-shaped  trees with excellent needle retention, making them a popular choice for holiday decorations.

Noble firs: The best Noble fir trees (scientific name: Abies procera) in the United States are typically grown in the Pacific Northwest region, primarily in the states of Oregon and Washington. (Oregon is where Patton's Christmas Trees gets their Noble firs from.) These areas provide ideal growing conditions for Noble fir trees due to their cool, moist climate, and suitable soil types. Noble firs from this region are highly regarded for their symmetrical shape, strong branches, and excellent needle retention, making them a popular choice for Christmas trees.

Nordmann firs: Nordmann fir trees (scientific name: Abies nordmanniana) are commonly grown for Christmas tree production in the United States, primarily in the Pacific Northwest region. The states of Oregon and Washington, in particular, are known for cultivating high-quality Nordmann fir Christmas trees. (Oregon is where Patton's Christmas Trees gets their Nordmann firs from.) The cool, moist climate and suitable soil conditions in this region are conducive to growing Nordmann firs with excellent needle retention, attractive foliage, and a symmetrical shape, which are highly desirable qualities for Christmas trees. 

Real Christmas trees can pose safety risks when not properly cared for or when safety precautions are overlooked. Here are some specific stories of dangerous incidents involving real Christmas trees and things that could have been done to prevent them:

-Deadly House Fire in Maryland (2020): In 2020, a tragic house fire in Annapolis, Maryland was attributed to an electrical failure in the Christmas tree lights. Investigators found that the tree was dry, which allowed the fire to spread quickly.

Ways It Could Have Been Prevented:
-Regular Watering: Ensuring the Christmas tree is adequately watered and maintaining the water level in the tree stand could have prevented the tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
-Fire-Safe Lights: Using Christmas lights that are tested for safety and free from frayed wires or damaged bulbs can help prevent electrical fires.
-Timely Disposal: Disposing of the tree promptly after the holiday season can reduce the risk of it becoming dry and combustible.

-Apartment Fire in New York City (2017): In 2017, a Christmas tree caught fire in a New York City apartment, leading to a blaze that displaced 60 people from the building. Firefighters reported that the tree had become very dry, and the fire was further exacerbated by the presence of flammable decorations.

Ways It Could Have Been Prevented:
-Proper Tree Hydration: Regularly watering the Christmas tree to maintain moisture levels is essential, especially in indoor environments with central heating that can cause the tree to dry out quickly.
-Fire Extinguishers: Having fire extinguishers readily accessible in homes and apartments can help contain a fire in its early stages.

These stories underscore the importance of fire safety, electrical safety, and proper tree care when dealing with real Christmas trees. Regularly watering the tree, using safe electrical connections, and following safety guidelines can help prevent dangerous incidents like these during the holiday season.

Humans have been decorating their dwellings for tens of thousands of years. The earliest evidence of this practice dates back to the Paleolithic era, around 40,000 years ago. Prehistoric cave paintings found in places like Chauvet Cave in France and Altamira Cave in Spain are among the earliest known forms of decoration. These ancient artworks depict scenes of daily life, animals, and rituals, suggesting that humans have had a desire to adorn their living spaces for a very long time.

The tradition of decorating to celebrate holidays is ancient. The Romans decorated their homes and temples with wreaths, evergreen boughs and other greenery during the Feast of Saturnalia, which originated in the 5th century BC!  

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman holiday that honored Saturn (the God associated with agriculture and seed-sowing) and celebrated the promise of a spring harvest.