When you think of Christmas, what is the first thing you think of? For us, it’s the Christmas tree. It is the epitome of Christmas and for many families decorating the tree is one of the highlights of the festive period.
What is the real meaning of a Christmas tree?
What does the Christmas tree represent and why did people start bringing them into their homes? Well, the story of the Christmas tree began with performances in churches depicting the expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise. The story highlights where sin came from and why we all need salvation. The story was popular around Christmas time because the 24th of December was the celebration of the liturgical commemoration of our first parents, Adam and Eve.
The Christmas tree represents the tree of knowledge, of good and evil – in Europe it is hard to find a fruiting apple tree in December, so the green coniferous tree played the part of the tree from paradise. Later, people begun to hang fruits and chains, symbolizing the fruit and the serpent that tempted Eve – this is where out tradition for hanging baubles came from.
Later trees were moved into homes and offices and other institutions and, though the performances of the Adam and Eve story died out, the Christmas trees remained a popular feature at this time of year.
When did we first start to decorate Christmas trees?
The trend of bringing a tree into the home at Christmas time originated in Germany as early as the 16th century. Initially, the tree was hung from the ceiling with the tip down. When we began to decorate Christmas trees, they were originally decorated with roses made from coloured paper, apples, wafers, tinsel and sweetmeats. It was only in the 18th century that we really started to decorate trees with candles, which later turned into the Christmas lights we all know and love, today.
It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century protestant reformer, first added candles to a tree. The story says that whilst walking home one evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens and so to recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and decorated with lit candles.
When should you put up a Christmas tree?
With so much tradition surrounding the meaning of the Christmas tree, there is much debate on when is the best time to put up your Christmas tree. Due to the celebration of the liturgical commemoration of Adam and Eve, history suggests that people used to put their trees up on the afternoon of December 24th, but in modern times this tradition has been long forgotten by many and is considered far too late.
Traditionalists believe that the right time to put up your Christmas tree is 12 days before Christmas. However, the British Christmas Tree Growers Association suggests that December 1st (or the fourth Sunday before Christmas, to coincide with Advent) is a good time but also says that December 11th is a good compromise for those who consider the 1st too early.
This advice is based on the use of real Christmas trees in order to give you the most enjoyment out of them and also to ensure that they last until Christmas day with needles still on them as a bare tree will make for a sad Christmas morning. But if you opt for an artificial Christmas tree, we recommend the earlier the better so that you can enjoy the tree for the maximum amount of time – December 1st is a great date for a full month of festive Christmas tree enjoyment.
Should you buy a real Christmas tree or an artificial Christmas tree?
In recent years artificial Christmas trees have grown in popularity but real trees ultimately remain on top. This is mainly down to the real tree smell, the cost and environmental reasons.
The cost for a real tree is significantly less than for a good quality artificial tree, but these costs can become more over time when you must replace the real tree every year, whereas an artificial tree can last for years, sometimes as long as 15-20 years, so the cost can even out over that lifespan.
People are also often concerned with the environmental impact of plastic artificial trees and experts do say you would have to have the same artificial tree for 10 years for it to have a lower environmental impact than that of a real-life tree, it also depends on the way the tree is disposed of to how environmentally friendly it is. However, as many of our Kaemingk artificial trees have an extended 12-year warranty, keeping the environmental impact lower than or equivalent to that of a real tree is easy.
Aside from these factors, there are many more reasons that an artificial tree can be a better choice. The number one factor is that you know the tree will last until Christmas. Needles will not fall off an artificial tree-like with a real one and therefore there is no risk of having a bare tree for Christmas day. Additionally, with no falling needles you won’t have to clean up around your tree every day.
With real trees it is all about timing, get your tree too early and it will be naked by Christmas day, leave it too late and all the best ones will be gone and you’ll end up with a small, skinny one that no one else wanted.
Another benefit of an artificial tree is the option of a pre-lit or pre-decorated tree which takes a lot of the hassle out of decorating and leaves only the fun parts. However, an artificial tree will require time spent fluffing the branches to make it look full and lifelike. Many artificial trees these days are indistinguishable from the real thing if fluffed and decorated well.
What is the cost of a real Christmas tree?
We touched upon the cost of artificial and real Christmas trees but let’s talk real numbers. The cost of a real Christmas tree does depend on the size – as it would with an artificial tree – and can vary from between £20-£40 for a small 4ft/5ft tree and be as much as £70-£80 for a 6ft/7ft tree, or perhaps more depending on where you buy.
What is the cost of an artificial Christmas tree?
Artificial trees are sometimes more costly but do remember this is a one-off payment that will not need to be repeated for years to come, whereas the real tree cost is a yearly cost. 5ft artificial trees can be found on our website for as little as £39.99 and the most expensive 7ft tree on our website is £299.99, with the cheapest 7ft tree being £59.99. Of course, when it comes to artificial trees the price does reflect the quality of the materials used.
What is a fibre optic Christmas tree?
A fibre optic tree is an artificial Christmas tree that has fibre optic lights built in, they often use flashing colourful sequences or fade from colour to colour to create a magical and festive glow. They are not very lifelike but do take the hassle out of decorating your tree with lights, which is why a lot of people opt for them.
Fibre optic trees are available in many colours, but some are put off by the flashing light sequences. However, if you have a fibre optic tree with multi-function settings you should be able to choose a static option or a slow fade sequence.
Can you buy a lifelike artificial Christmas tree?
There are many incredibly lifelike artificial Christmas trees on the market. The main materials used for artificial Christmas trees are PVC and PE needles. PVC branches are the cheaper branch, they are a soft material and make the tree incredibly easy to shape. PE branches are moulded to be an exact replica of their real counterpart and are incredibly realistic.
Trees that are only PVC branches, often don’t look very realistic at all, but those that are a PVC/PE real needle mix are often almost indistinguishable from a real-life tree. It is rare that a tree is made from all PE needles because PVC branches do help to give the tree a natural shape.
The other thing to look out for when buying a lifelike artificial tree is tip count, the larger the tip count the fuller the tree will be and therefore the more realistic. Trees with a lower tip count can look bare and they often expose the inner pole which is always wrapped in PVC branches and can expose it for the artificial tree that it is.
A top tip to make sure your tree looks real is top cover the metal or plastic base that it comes with, with a willow tree ring or another natural-looking base that lends itself to the lifelike appearance you are aiming for and covers up any signs that it is not a real tree.
What’s the best type of artificial Christmas tree?
Of course, this comes down to personal preference and the desired look that you want to achieve with your Christmas tree, but we would recommend that the best type of artificial Christmas tree is one that is taller than you – we recommend 6ft-7ft for most living spaces – one that is made using a PE real needle and PVC “bottle brush” branch mix, and that has a large tip count of 1,000 branch tips and upwards. These are the most lifelike looking artificial trees and are often the most impressive in living areas and hallways.
Having lots of branches means there is plenty of room for decorations, lights and for putting your own personal stamp on the tree. We recommend 120 items for a 5ft tree, 160 items for a 6ft tree and 200 items for a 7ft tree.
What Christmas tree should I get?
Ultimately, the type of Christmas tree you go for, whether real or artificial is completely down to your own preference, space and taste. There are slim trees, fat trees, tall trees, small trees, green trees, snowy trees, colourful trees, pre-lit trees, pre-decorated trees and natural trees, and all have their own reasons for being great.
The most important thing is that you enjoy your Christmas tree and that you have lots of fun decorating it with your loved ones!