Saturday, December 19, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree: the non-sentimental redux

Here are some fun facts I learned from The Washington Post's The Mini Pages, the brilliant kids pullout section that's been running since forever - or at least since I was a kid.

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?


  1. What is a tree's favorite beverage?
    *root beer

    What does a maple tree like to watch on TV?
    *Sap operas

    How far is it from one tree to the next in a dense forest?
    *Just a hop, skip, and a stump

    Brilliant, right?! :)

  2. I thought Xmass-tree is brought in to hang presents. Never know that it was originally brought in to remind people of springs.. ~bangchik

  3. LOL Cute :-)

    re: your comment on my blog - your students must really love you! We sure never gave such nice gifts to our teachers, for sure. Glad you're appreciated!

  4. Ha ha... root beer... Yes of course! I like this drink too!!

    And a live tree in the house?! This is unimaginable for me as I have a small house. And to dig a hole in the house... gosh that's too much for a Christmas tree isn't it? Anyway, it would be nice for big house, hotel or office building that has a atrium :-D

  5. Hey, how'd you know I was in the mood for corny jokes? Always learn something fun on your posts, Wendy! I have a friend who ONLY buy rootballed trees so her whole yard is lined with memories of xmas pasts...but the hole must be dug in Oct/Nov before the ground freezes.
    Now I want some root beer!!!

  6. Wendy, your jokes makes me LOL. Very funny. I am going to recycle it soon. Today I am celebrating Dong Zhi Festival(winter solstice). Does you parents still celebrate it? Happy Christmas to you!

  7. Funny jokes and good info on Christmas trees.
    I have written about the trees for several magazines, and collect info on them for future articles.
    Nice to meet you and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  8. Happy .. Happy holidays!
    & good wishes for 2010,Wendy...
    dear Wendy!

  9. Lynn - you're very easily influenced!

    Alice - you too!!

    Autumn Belle - I'll have to figure out which celebration that is - if I can remember the food involved, I can usually figure it out!

    Bangchik- glad you're back!

    Stephanie - yes, it definitely sounds like work. I think they're referring to planting outside - still a lot of work though!

    Julie - I do get some really nice gifts!!

    Terra - thanks for visiting!


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