Trees that stayed green all year round have always had a special meaning for people. Evergreens symbolize everlasting life. Long before Christianity, people would use evergreen plants to decorate their homes. The prominence of evergreen trees, as a symbol for Christmas, did not come about until the 12th century, when Europeans, particularly in Germany, would hang fir trees upside down to decorate their homes over the festive season. It was not until the 16th century that Martin Luther King lit the first Christmas tree with candles to show his children how stars shined bright during the night. Christmas trees were introduced to England in the early 19th century and popularized by Prince Albert – who was born in Germany – and his wife Queen Victoria. To begin with, they were placed on tables, as they were smaller, and decorated with toys, small gifts, candles, ribbons, and fancy chains. When larger trees became available, people began to place them on the floor, beginning the tradition of laying gifts underneath Christmas trees.
Today, tens of millions of Americans purchase a live Christmas tree each year, and here in Rhode Island, there is no shortage of outstanding growers of Christmas trees. Our tree farms account for millions of dollars in revenue and are an important part of the state’s agricultural industry. The Rhode Island Christmas Tree Growers Association (RICTGA) website is an excellent source of information, and a convenient place to find a tree farm that grows and sells live Christmas trees near you. The organization consists of state growers and retailers that have a common interest in promoting the Christmas Tree Industry.
Our area Christmas tree farms have been growing Christmas trees for more many decades, most family-owned businesses serving new and returning customers for generations. RICTGA farms grow the most popular varieties of Christmas trees, which include balsam fir, Douglas fir, Scotch Pine, Blue and Norway Spruce.
Picking out a Christmas tree is a memorable tradition for many families, and you can visit a farm in late fall to tag your tree for the holiday season, or you can wait and pick your tree anytime until Christmas Eve. You can even cut the tree down yourself if you want to go full Clark Griswold, though most farms carry a large variety of freshly cut trees to choose from, and in sizes ranging from those for the tabletop, right on up to trees stretching as tall as 12 feet. Besides trees, you’ll find other holiday decorations for your home, such as wreaths, garland, and centerpieces. The farms are always great locations for couples and families to take photos for their Christmas cards, or to visit with Santa, go on a hayride through the farm, or browse in the gift shop for gift ideas for relatives and loved ones.
For those who need more of a reason to get a real Christmas tree from a local farm this holiday season, consider that trees are a renewable resource, and for every tree that is cut, a farmer will typically plant two or three seedlings to replace it. Trees clean carbon dioxide from the air and create oxygen. Just one acre of Christmas trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people. While there is typically a twenty to thirty year rotation for timber, a Christmas tree can reach marketable maturity in as little as four years. Furthermore, Christmas tree farms add to the quality of life in the state by protecting open space and providing habitat for a variety of wildlife, as well as protecting our watersheds from runoff and erosion, and all at no cost to the taxpayer. Buying a locally grown Christmas tree also supports local agriculture and local farmers.
So, when you buy a Christmas tree locally, you’re not only celebrating the holidays and beautifying your home, but you’re also planting trees that clean the air and produce oxygen, supporting local business, protecting the environment, and supporting wildlife.
To find a Christmas tree farm near you, and learn what tree might be best for you and how to care for it, visit the RICTGA website: https://www.richristmastrees.com.