Advent, the time to prepare for the celebration of Christmas, has started, so this may be a good time to write a blog about the Christmas tree.
The tradition of the Christmas tree has its roots in protestant Germany in the early 16th century. From there it has spread over the whole Christian part of the globe. In Finland the first known record of a Christmas tree is from 1829.
In Finland traditionally the Christmas tree was taken from the forest on Christmas Eve. Although this tradition is still very much alive, the Christmas tree has also become a substantial business. Every year about 1.2 million cultivated Christmas trees are sold in Finland, with a total value of approximately 45 million Euro. More than 80% of these cultivated trees are domestically grown. For this about 2000 ha of Christmas tree plantations is needed. The domestically grown trees are mainly Norway spruce, but some other spruce species are also used. The imported trees are mainly firs.
It’s all about shape
A major challenge for the Christmas tree farmers is to find suitable plant material. Norway spruce that is grown for the forest industry should grow fast, with low branch numbers, where for Christmas trees the shape is most important, with a dense crown. Regular pruning of the trees in the plantations can only be done by hand and is thus very time consuming and expensive.
One could say that Luke is also involved in the Christmas tree business. Luke is planning a new project on ornamental conifers and Christmas trees. One of the aims of this project is to provide the Christmas tree farmers with high quality plant material of Norway spruce varieties that are selected for their beautiful shape of the crown and for being well adapted to the Nordic climate.
Take care of your tree
Finally, some advise that I found from an early article by Aarne Reunala on how to take care of your Christmas tree:
- Select a fresh spruce, that is beautiful green, smells good, and of which the needles are tightly attached to the branches.
- Pull a branch between your fingers. If the needles remain tied, the tree is good
- Lift the tree a bit from the ground and let it drop back again. If green needles are shed, the tree is too dry.
- When you bring the tree inside, saw a few centimeters from the basis of the stem. A fresh cut takes up water better.
- Put the tree in its standard, and fill it with water
- The water level should not drop below the basis of the stem. Dry wood does not take up water anymore. A spruce in a dry inside environment may take up as much as three liters of water per day.
- Place the tree at a cool place, without draft and as far from any heating source as possible.
With these tips your Christmas tree should remain fresh until Epiphany.