Today's Christmas Trees
The Christmas tree has come a long way, from its pagan origins as an evergreen symbol of life in pre-Christian times to its rapid spread throughout Europe and America in the 1800's. Today it's the center of most Christmas celebrations around the world, and comes in a huge variety of styles.
In 1851 Mark Carr opened the first Christmas tree retail lot in New York, and from that time onward the use of Christmas trees in family homes took off. While most people now purchase their trees from Christmas tree lots (where the vast majority of Christmas trees are now sold), a substantial number get them from "cut your own" farms. Additionally, artificial Christmas trees have become more and more popular in recent years.
While most people imagine artificial Christmas trees to be a recent invention, they've actually been in use as long as natural Christmas trees have in the United States. In fact it appears the first use of a Christmas tree in America was an artificial one made of evergreen branches attached to wooden pyramids in 1747. Artificial trees were also made of feathers in Germany, and mass produced with brush bristles (using the same machinery made to manufacture toilet brushes!) in 1930 by Addis Brush Company in the USA.
Today's artificial trees come in an amazing variety of styles, from flocked and colored trees in such outlandish colors as black, pink, and red, to upside down trees (which also surprisingly have old roots in Germany and Austria). Whether people use real or artificial trees, today they're almost always decorated with a combination of lights, ornaments, other foliage, and treats. Most families around the world place presents beneath their trees to be opened on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, and you'll find them in nearly every place of business in the weeks before Christmas.
Throughout the history of the Christmas tree there's been plenty of controversy surrounding it, and the controversy hasn't ceased to this day!