LESSON ABOUT CHRISTMAS TREES … Ann Marie Michaels of the Williams Soil and Water District shows children the different kinds of needles found on Christmas trees. (PHOTO BY DANIEL COOLEY, STAFF)
By: Daniel Cooley
Ever wonder how the tradition of Christmas trees got started? Or when Christmas tree farms began?
Well, 28 Stryker Elementary students found out about both facts on Tuesday afternoon, November 29, at 3:15 p.m., at the Stryker Library.
Ann Marie Michaels, from the Williams Soil and Water Conservation District, gave a presentation to the students.
First, she read to the children a fictional story about a family who started a Christmas tree farm.
Then she discussed the various kinds of Christmas trees and then passed around samples to the children.
Michaels stated that the origin of Christmas trees came from Germany, around 1850.
In 1851, Christmas trees were sold commercially for the first time and the first white house Christmas tree appeared in 1853.
The selling or even picking out Christmas trees from grandma and grandpa’s back yard became so popular that the Christmas tree population deteriorated at an alarming rate.
Because of that, the idea of starting Christmas tree farms began in order to save the Christmas tree population.
According to Michaels, the first Christmas tree farm started in 1901 and today all 50 states have Christmas tree farms.
The states with the most Christmas tree farms are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Ohio also has quite a few tree farms, ranking 10th.
Michaels stated that in the early days, among the most popular Christmas trees were the Norway Blue Spruce.
While many trees today are of the artificial variety, the most popular live trees today are the fir trees like Balsam Firs and Frazier Firs.
The fir trees are soft to the touch, as the children found out.
“The spruce needles are square shaped and the needles on the fir tree are flat and friendly,” Michaels told the children as she passed around the two types of trees.
The session was concluded with each child getting the chance to make a Christmas tree ornament.
Each was given a bag that contained a tree with a string on top (for hanging the tree), plus small ornaments.
Each child then got to take home their tree ornament, with the chance to hang it on the family tree.
Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org