Tree-mendous: how much do you know about Christmas trees?

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Christmas trees have become an integral part of a traditional Christmas – from making a family expedition to choose and bring home a real tree, to mounting an annual expedition to rescue the fake tree from the loft. Given how important they’ve become, it’s difficult to believe they’re a relatively new addition to our festive traditions. Here are a few things you might not have know about Christmas trees:

  • In pagan times, evergreen trees were seen as a symbol of fertility and people would bring boughs into their houses as decoration, and to provide luck for the year.
  • Medieval mystery plays sometimes featured a ‘tree of paradise’, symbolising the Garden of Eden. The tree was normally decked with apples, which may the forerunners of our Christmas tree decorations.
  • The first decorated Christmas tree appeared in Riga in Latvia in 1510
  • The most common types of modern Christmas tree are Douglas fir and Scotch pine, but in the past other types of tree were using including hawthorn and cherry.
  • The idea for electric Christmas tree lights came from Edward Johnson, assistant to Thomas Edison.Up to that point, people used real candles to decorate their trees and often caused house fires. Electric tree lights were commercially produced in 1890. The first UK retailer to sell commercial Christmas tree ornaments was Woolworths, in 1880.
  • Since 1947, the tree in Trafalgar Square has been a gift from Oslo in Norway, as an expression of thanks for Britain’s help during the Second World War.
  • While everyone thinks that Queen Victoria’s husband Albert brought the Christmas tree to England, it was actually Charlotte, wife of George III, in 1800. It was Prince Albert who popularised the custom, though, in the 1840s.
  • Franklin Pierce, the 14th president, was the first president to place a tree in the White House, while the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony was started by President Coolidge in 1923.
  • Around 50 million seedlings are planted every year in the USA by commercial Christmas tree growers.
  • Artificial Christmas trees were invented in Germany in the 19th century. Originally, they were made using goose feathers dyed green and attached to wire branches with a central dowel ‘trunk’. Today, eight per cent of artificial trees globally are made in China.

This Christmas, come and see our Christmas tree at the Swettenham Arms. We’ve also got real log fires, craft beer and lots of festive cheer, and we’re running special menus throughout December. Take a look at our food page to find out more.

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