I'm focusing today on the non-religious aspects of the Christmas tree that I found interesting in The Mini Pages.
- For ancient people, winter was a difficult time. Crops were done and people had food for the cold season, but days were short and skies were gray. To liven their spirits, they would bring evergreen plants or leaves indoors. These reminded them that spring and new growth would come again.
- Romans had a holiday called Saturnalia. This festival honored the god of agriculture. They decorated their homes with greens for this holiday.
- The tradition of displaying a Christmas tree probably came to the United States with German immigrants. In fact, Tannenbaum is the German word for fir tree.
- Some people today choose a live tree to bring inside if they want to plant it outside later. This requires some advance planning. If the ground may be frozen by Christmas, people will need to dig a hole before the freeze. The tree needs to be kept cool while it's indoors. If it gets too warm, the tree will begin to bud, and when it's taken outside, the buds will fall off. Also, root balls are very heavy. A 5-foot tree might have a root ball that weighs 200 pounds!
- Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states.
- Christmas trees grow about 1 foot per year.
- To tell if a tree is fresh: the bottom of trunk is sticky with sap, the needles bend but don't break, and the tree doesn't lose many needles when you shake it.
- Tree farmers harvest 30 to 35 million trees every year. After the holiday, many are recycled as mulch or sunk in ponds to make homes and feeding areas for fish!
And now I leave you with a few jokes also from this issue of The Mini Pages (answers are in the comments)...
What is a tree's favorite beverage?
What does a maple tree like to watch on TV?
How far is it from one tree to the next in a dense forest?