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Types of Christmas Trees

The Christmas tree is one of the major festive traditions. Read on to know more about the different types of trees available.

When decorations are put up for Christmas each year, the Christmas tree occupies a prominent place among them. A Christmas tree can be of any height, and it is usually placed within the home, mostly in the living room. In houses with compounds, the tree may be placed outside, to welcome visitors to the home. A Christmas tree is an evergreen, coniferous tree, which is decorated with bright lights and a variety of coloured ornaments, to highlight its beauty. The apex of the tree will have a star or an angel to represent the Nativity scene of the Christmas story.

Traditionally, the tree must be put up on Christmas Eve. It is taken down in the first week of January, after the feast of Epiphany. However, in most homes and public places, the Christmas tree is put up days before Christmas Eve. A Christmas tree may be natural or artificial in origin. The type of Christmas tree chosen will depend on space available, budget constraints, personal preferences, etc.

Natural Trees

In olden times, all Christmas trees were actual conifers. They would be cut down before Christmas and transported to their respective homes. This tradition still lives on in many places. Trees belonging to the genus Abies are the most popular Christmas trees. These are fir trees and have a number of points in their favour. They are fast growing and possess a good scent and foliage colour. An added benefit is that these trees do not shed their pine needles, once the tree starts drying out.

Apart from fir trees, other coniferous trees used for Christmas are the giant sequoia, Leyland cypress, Eastern juniper, etc. Spruce trees are another popular option but they have some drawbacks. The spruce tree, on being cut, sheds its needles quickly. In comparison to firs, needles of the spruce tree are very sharp. This makes decorating the tree a difficult task.

The average time required by a Christmas tree to grow from a seed into a tree that is about seven feet tall is 8-12 years. The growth rate depends on the species of tree selected, soil quality, weather, as well as individual farming practices. Natural trees are not very popular in the Indian subcontinent. This is largely due to the fact that the climate in most areas is not conducive to the growth of evergreen conifers.

Artificial Trees

Over the years, artificial Christmas trees have become increasingly popular among people. Artificial Christmas trees have a variety of advantages over their naturally grown counterparts. They are generally considered to be more convenient and less expensive than the natural trees. They are convenient because they come in a variety of sizes, to suit every need. People living in apartments avoid natural Christmas trees because of space constraints. With an artificial tree, they can select one that meets their size requirements. An added bonus is that an artificial tree can be dismantled and stored in a box during the other months.

Artificial trees are reusable, if stored properly. This makes them a cheaper alternative to natural trees. They are also ideal for homes where a member of the household is allergic to real coniferous trees. Artificial trees are also popular in offices. Nowadays, artificial trees come preloaded with lights and decorations as well. The colour of an artificial tree can be customised, and its look, to resemble a natural tree.

Initially, artificial trees were made using animal hair, primarily pig's bristles. The bristles were normally dyed green, in order to resemble the real pine needles. Then, the dyed needles would be placed between twisted wires, to resemble the branches. These branches were then placed into a wooden pole, with rings, which functioned as the main stem of the tree.

After some time, plastic bristles replaced the animal hair while metal replaced the wooden pole. Today, the pine needles are made of flattened Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) sheets. The technology used to construct artificial trees is constantly being improved to make artificial trees appear more real.

A major difference between artificial and natural trees is also their mode of disposal. Although artificial trees can be used for some years, they cannot be recycled after they are discarded. On the other hand, natural trees can be recycled into mulch, a protective cover placed over soil.

Is a tree part of your Christmas decorations? Do you have an artificial tree or a naturally growing one? What do you think of the trend of having decorated trees readily available? To share your tips, views, and experiences, click here.

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