Homes and public places are being decorated with Christmas trees. For many people here in Britain, December wouldn’t be complete without a tree in the house. The tree is adorned with lights, tinsel and other pretty things.
Various kinds of artificial tree are available. But if you prefer a real tree, in Britain you’ll probably want a Norway spruce (Picea abies). It’s notorious for shedding its needles all over the carpet but people love it anyway. It smells very nice.
The Christmas tree has a long history dating back at least to the 7th century. It’s a German tradition, famously popularised over here by Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert in the 19th century. Since that time, we’ve been at war with Germany twice but the Christmas tree is here to stay.
The Forestry Commission invites us to experience the magic of Christmas in the forest. You can buy your tree from a Christmas tree farm near you because yes, there are plenty of them. In fact Christmas tree farming is a lucrative industry with its own Growers’ Association.
After the festive season, if you purchased a Christmas tree with its roots on, it’s possible to keep it alive. You can nurture it outdoors in the ground or in a container. I’ve known people happy to eat dead animals and birds at Christmas but deeply unwilling to kill their festive trees. Tempting as it may be to keep the tree alive, I say don’t do it! Unless you’re a forester and you want to farm spruce for wood pulp. P. abies isn’t native here. It’s a forest tree which can grow to 40 metres tall.
So decorate your real tree if you wish. Enjoy your festive season. Then say farewell to your tree and move forward to the New Year.