The Christmas tree, typically an evergreen conifer, is one of the typical ornaments of the house during the Christmas period, many connect it to consumer celebrations related to this time of year, and instead its origins are rooted in antiquity, and are much deeper than those of an ornament. Around this evergreen tree are linked traditions, legends, customs and traditions of the people who lived in Europe and North Africa thousands of years ago.
In the oldest pre-Christian tradition, some trees have the connotation of cosmic trees, or bridges that act as an intermediary with the divine and the earth, a symbol of this union between man and the divinity many populations of northern Europe considered the fir tree, a majestic tree, which even during the winter maintains its splendor; branches of evergreen plants were used to decorate houses in the festivities of the winter solstice, to propitiate the arrival of summer and also to ward off curses or unpropitious events.
It was in ancient times that this use moved to the Christian holiday of Christmas, where the tree represents Jesus Christ, or the tree of life, while the decorations are pure symbols. Once upon a time fruits and decorations of paper, flowers or lights hung on the tree; initially the fruits were seen as symbols of the fruit of original sin, and the other decorations instead as symbols of the Eucharist, and of salvation in Christ.
Historically, it seems that the first real “modern” Christmas tree was erected in Riga, in 1600; even on that tree, a fir tree, were hung flowers of colored paper, apples, dried fruit, biscuits and candles. It seems that the tree that we prepare today in our homes derives precisely from that, even if today the fruit has given way to colored balls, made of glass or plastic material.
Which tree to use?
Also called Norway fir, it is an evergreen conifer with rapid development, which may develop up to one metre per year during the first twenty years of life; it has thick and thick branches, which develop along an ample erect trunk, with grey, wrinkled and rough bark; the foliage is formed by the typical conifer needles, which have, however, a square section, are of a dark green colour, tend to lighter colours if the plant is cultivated in conditions of excessive heat and too much luminosity.
In the wild, this large tree develops in northern Europe, in some areas of Russia and in a few areas of the Alps; by now, it has become naturalized also in North America, where the Norwegian fir is also cultivated. This conifer is the most widely used decorative Christmas tree in Europe and America.
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The nordmannian fir is another conifer that is widely used as a Christmas tree; in nature these large trees (they can reach 60 meters in height), grow in areas near the Black Sea and in the mountains of the Caucasus. The needle-shaped leaves are long and flattened, of a nice dark green colour; the ramifications are quite thick even in the young specimens and are parallel to the ground, well placed along the wide stem.
The development, in the first years of life of the plant, is quite rapid, and in the space of about ten years we can obtain a conifer which is already 6-8 metres high from the ground. The nordman fir is very much used as an indoor Christmas plant because the needles tend to remain well attached to the plant for many weeks, even when the trunk is separated from the roots, or when the plant is in conditions of excessive heat and drought, and therefore suffers or even dies.
The Christmas tree in the house
The “real” Christmas tree, i.e. the natural one, made up of a real small plant with roots, or the unrooted top of an evergreen conifer, is still widely used; certainly, in addition to the aesthetic beauty of real pine needles, the natural fir tree also gives the warmth and smell of a real tree, coming from the Trentino woods in Italy.
Unfortunately, if we wish to keep the Christmas fir in our house, this tree will be destined to die almost certain, as bringing it into the house will stimulate its development, but the practically summery climate present in our homes is always excessively hot and dry for these trees, which in the living room (perhaps next to the fireplace) are constantly subject to a climate completely unnatural for them, which causes great suffering.
In addition to this, the presence of small electric lights between the needles, causes additional heat and drought in the air. So if we do not want to make our Christmas fir suffer we have two options, the first is to buy a tip, instead of a tree with roots, in this way we buy the equivalent of a bouquet of flowers, which will last until the Epiphany and then will be ready for composting, or we can buy a small fir with its roots, and place it on the terrace, east, exposed to the cold.
In both cases, to make sure that the plant survives as long as possible, it would be better to avoid small lights, so that the canopy can be vaporized frequently; let’s avoid placing the tree near the radiator, the fireplace, the stove, and prefer a room with little heating, and a place near the window, which can be opened frequently.
Let’s place the tree with roots in a nice big pot, with universal soil and garden earth, which we will water slightly, without soaking, every time it dries up completely.
More and more often, imitations in plastic material are used instead of natural firs; this replacement undoubtedly has its advantages: those who suffer from allergies to conifers cannot bring home a natural fir; synthetic firs last a few years; during the Christmas period no care is needed for the tree, which in no way risks losing the needles.
In commerce we find many models of Christmas trees in plastic, even of bizarre colors, at the time of choice let us remember that for some years will decorate our Christmas home, and therefore it is worth spending a few more euros to have a better product. To keep it over the years, let’s keep its packaging, and store it carefully after Christmas, so that it is away from dust and bumps, which can irreparably spoil the fine needles.
We often hear that the plastic Christmas tree is more respectful of the environment than the natural one; in reality, with the natural tree we produce waste wood, which should be delivered as green waste to landfill and then compost; in Italy many people work in the sector that deals with the cultivation of conifers, which are used to make furniture, wood and Christmas trees; we do not take Christmas trees from the natural forests, but these plants are planted and cut periodically, as is the case for any cultivation.
When we buy a synthetic Christmas tree in a few years we will produce waste plastic material difficult to compose, which will remain in the environment for several decades. It is clear that the synthetic tree has many advantages, and if we make it last many years, the environmental impact will also be reduced.
Choose a Christmas tree
When we go to the nursery to buy the Christmas fir, we usually find a large basket, containing several saplings, with all the branches tied closely around the stem, this type of ligation is not done to mask any gaps in the foliage of the sapling, but to be able to carry it, without the branches being damaged.
If, however, we have a little time, we can ask the nurseryman to unroll a couple of saplings, in order to be able to choose better the one to take home, which must have a thick and compact foliage, with a good number of ramifications full of needles, and a nice dark green colour. Often the branches, closely tied, take some hours to return to its place, even if the repositioning may be slightly forced and accelerated with the hands; we take into account this when choosing them.
Many small firs then have the top disproportionate to the rest of the tree, which is very long and without branches: if we buy a tree without roots, we can also cut it to shorten it, without this shortens the life of the plant without root system.
Even in the case of synthetic Christmas trees is good to choose carefully, there are trees for a few euros, and large beautiful trees, very similar to natural ones, the astronomical cost, keep in mind that the euros spent this year for the synthetic tree will be spread over the years of duration of the tree, and generally the more beautiful is a synthetic tree and more robust, and therefore lasts longer, allowing us to spend a few more euros this year, for a tree that can also last for the next ten years.
In any case, let’s avoid buying with the box closed, and prefer shops that display at least one specimen of synthetic tree for each model they have for sale, so you can see the final effect of the tree well open.
Also in this case, the trees, in order to be packed and moved, are closed and folded, so that they can occupy as little space as possible, once mounted the tree in the living room, before placing the decorations, we open well all the branches, so as to make them parallel to the ground, and flatten the tips of the branches.
True Christmas Tree
The real Christmas tree has positive and negative aspects that we must consider and ponder before choosing whether to put at home a spruce with real needles or a plastic fir with plastic needles. The beauty is definitely different and even if nowadays fake trees are identical to real ones in terms of appearance, in reality the effect they make at home is very different.
In addition to the scent of fir that emanate from the real trees and that is able to invade the house with its delicious essence of pine needles, the fake trees are recognized by the extremely geometric effect they give. Being trees built in the factory, you can not expect an appearance equal to that of real trees.
However, real trees have one big flaw: they get dirty. These trees have leaves and resin and day after day they lose their needles on the floor, not to mention that it is easy to dirty the living room or parts of the house with the resin that these plants can lose.
Obviously, fake Christmas trees do not dirty or lose their needles and, above all, once Christmas is over, they can be moved and put back into the attic or garage without flooding the house with needles.
The choice must therefore be made considering these elements and trying to understand what are the things we do not tolerate: do we love the scent of fir needles or do we hate to pick up the needles in soil lost from the plant? Evaluate these things and make your choices
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