Unless you live under a rock, you realize that each and every year the Christmas season starts earlier and earlier. For many people, one of their favorite things about the holiday season is putting up the Christmas tree and decorating the home.
The question is when should you put up the Christmas tree?
First, a little history! Long before Christianity – evergreen trees and plants had special meaning for people in the wintertime. In fact, during Pagan times – people would decorate their homes with these evergreen plants, trees and boughs during the cold season as a way to ward off evil spirits, illness, ghosts and witches. The decoration of the home was done during the Winter Solstice – which is the shortest day of the year and occurs December 21st and 22nd. Pagan people decorated their homes on this date, as a way to celebrate the sun god and to look forward to the return of the daylight sun with the lengthening days. Many ancient cultures decorated their homes with the evergreens during the winter solstice. However, the Christmas tree tradition is said to have sprung from Germany in the 16th century. In the late 1830’s, German immigrants brought the first Christmas trees to their Pennsylvania community. In 1931, the first Christmas tree appeared at Rockefeller Center in New York, and it was from there that today’s traditional Christmas tree erection became symbolic of the holiday season.
In older times and traditions the Christmas tree was not set up until Christmas Eve (Or the 23rd depending on the religion) and was taken down on the twelfth night, or the 5th of January after Three Kings Day. Doing so earlier or later was considered bad luck. However as most of you now realize, very few people wait until Christmas Eve to put up their tree. The introduction of fake trees and specially grown evergreens designed to last longer after being cut, has many people putting their trees up earlier than ever. Other traditions put up their Christmas tree on the Advent, which is the first Sunday in December, and then leave it up until January 5th.
However today, in the United States and Canada, many people are putting their Christmas trees up the day after the US Thanksgiving, and leaving them up until New Years. According to some estimates from various sources, the vast majority of people put up their tree either the weekend after the US Thanksgiving or the first week in December. For many people, they choose a date that has special meaning to their family – such as an anniversary or birthday as the day to put up the tree. And while most people leave their tree up until after New Years – the vast majority take theirs down before New Years to start the New Year off fresh and mark the end of the holiday season.
Luckily, there are no mandates or rules or laws about when to put up a Christmas tree. For some people the decision to put it up early, late or not at all – is a decision of economics and space. With the average fresh cut tree costing between $45 and $125, many people buy their tree and put it up when they have the extra cash to do so. Other people may not have very much space in their homes so they wait to put the tree up, or put up smaller versions of the tree to display. Additionally, since so much cost can be involved in buying and decorating a tree, many people like to put up and leave up their tree as long as possible, believing they look beautiful in the home.
For the big venues, such as the tree at the White House, and in Rockefeller square Christmas tree lightings occur on Thanksgiving night and are attended by thousands of people to watch. Most retail stores have their trees up long before Thanksgiving and deck the halls of their establishments quickly after Halloween in the United States. One of the major US retail chains, Nordstrom’s – goes against the norm and actually refuses to decorate for the Christmas holiday until the day after Thanksgiving.
Putting up your tree is a personal decision, and one that is normally based on family tradition. If you are one of those people that love the holiday season and cannot wait to get it kick started by decorating your home, then chances are you will put it up earlier. If you tend to like to celebrate the season closer to the 25th of December, then you might wait until mid-December to erect your Christmas tree. And believe it or not, there are some people who put up their trees and love them so much, that they keep them up all year!
One really great Christmas tree tradition is to buy a potted tree so that after the holidays you can have a beautiful evergreen to plant in your yard. Not only does this help to enliven your green space around your home, but you will have a long lasting memory of all your Christmas’ passed that you will be able to enjoy for a long time to come.