Christ­mas trees once known as humble conifers

Serve Daily - - EMPOWERING LIBERTY - By Ed Helmick

The ev­er­green conifer such as the spruce, pine or fir tree has been as­so­ci­ated with the cel­e­bra­tion of Christ­mas. These trees, as the name im­plies, keep their green, nee­dle-like leaves through­out the year. This is in con­trast to de­cid­u­ous trees like aspen trees that lose their fo­liage dur­ing the win­ter months. Ever­greens do lose their leaves as the leaves age and are re­placed, but they do not lose their leaves sea­son­ally all at once. The re­sult is a tree that is green all year. An­other in­ter­est­ing fea­ture of the ev­er­green conifer is their branches with nee­dle-like leaves slope down­ward to shed the weight of win­ter snow.

The name ev­er­green is ob­vi­ous, but what about the name conifer? Where does the conifer come from? We have all seen pine cones on pine trees, and that is how they re­pro­duce to grow new trees. The name conifer comes from the Latin word co­nis for cone and ferre mean­ing to bear. A conifer tree is one that bears cones. Ev­er­green conifer trees grow in all 50 states in­clud­ing Hawaii.

The next ques­tion is, how did the ev­er­green conifer be­come known as the Christ­mas tree? Ac­cord­ing to the En­cy­clo­pe­dia Bri­tan­nica, “the use of ev­er­green trees, wreaths, and gar­land to sym­bol­ize eter­nal life was a cus­tom of an­cient Egyp­tians, Chi­nese, and Hebrews. Tree wor­ship was com­mon among pa­gan Euro­peans and sur­vived their con­ver­sion to Chris­tian­ity in the Scan­di­na­vian cus­tom of dec­o­rat­ing the house and barn with ever­greens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of set­ting up a tree for birds dur­ing Christ­mas time. The Christ­mas tree tra­di­tion as we know it to­day evolved from 16th cen­tury Ger­many and spread across Europe and then through im­mi­grants to Canada and the United States. Now when we take the kids to the for­est, they call conifers Christ­mas trees.

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