Friday, December 14, 2012

Fun Friday Facts: #55: Christmas Tree Edition

I didn’t want to write this blog post. When I heard about the shootings in Connecticut today, and especially when I watched Facebook react to the shootings in Connecticut today, I was angry, and I wanted to write a rant. But then I drank some tea and calmed down instead. It’s not as if I was going to say anything that hasn’t already been said, far more eloquently than I would say it, and using far fewer “fucks.” It happens, and everyone argues about gun control for a day or two, but in the end nothing’s done about it and all we can do is hope it’s not our kids next time, because this is America, where people get shot because freedom.

 Here are your Christmas tree facts:

Fact one: They are a fire hazard.

1) 30 million Real Christmas Trees are sold in the US every year. This fact comes from the National Christmas Tree Association, the USDA and “your local Christmas tree professional.” I don’t know why these people feel the need to capitalize the term, but they do.

Actually, the National Christmas Tree Association would really, really like us all to buy Real Christmas Trees every year. One for every room, it sounds like. They point out that Real Christmas Trees are grown in “all 50 states and Canada,” just in case you’re originally Canadian and really patriotic when it comes to sourcing Christmas trees. They go on to point out that 80% of artificial trees are made in China (gasp!) and furthermore, that are not biodegradable and might contain lead, which honestly wouldn’t surprise me.

In case you’re worried about the environmental ramifications of Christmas tree farming, Real Christmas Trees are renewable and recyclable. Not sure what you recycle them as…mulch? Yeah, probably mulch.

100,000 people are employed in the Christmas tree industry in the US, so, it’s a job creator. The average growing time is seven years (holy shit!). There are currently at least 350 million Real Christmas Trees growing in the United States at any given time, and one to three new trees are planted to replace each one that is harvested.

They're not taking any fucking chances.

2) The practice of using a Christmas tree dates back to pre-Christian times. Back in the day, people used to drag in evergreen plants because it made them feel better about all the other plants being dead. The ancient Egyptians, who are practically the poster-children for sun-worship, decorated their homes with green palm rushes during the winter months to symbolize their particular brand of the “life triumphs over death” mythology.

Early Romans also used evergreen boughs as home décor in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Druids and Vikings also shared the belief that evergreen plants symbolized everlasting life, and believed that the solstice was a good time to display them since the days start getting longer again at that point.

Is that right? I always get confused about the solstice thing.

3) As I’ve mentioned before, Christmas wasn’t popular in early America, because it was seen as a British thing and because Puritan settlers weren’t so big on “pagan” Christmas traditions. In fact, Puritan colonists in New England even made laws against celebrating Christmas for a time. Oh, if they could see us now.

German-Americans brought the Christmas tree tradition with them, and used it in their own homes from the 1700s on, although much of the rest of America still regarded them as pagan and probably evil until the 1840s, when German Prince Albert brought Christmas trees to court in London. By that time, apparently, the distaste for British customs had already turned to the sort of fascination that makes little kids dress up in their parents’ clothes, because we couldn’t wait to get us some Christmas trees and by the 20th century, they were all the rage.

4) Early Christmas trees were decorated with cookies, nuts, apples or handmade ornaments. Before electricity was invented, small candles were used to light the trees. According to Wikipedia, the Christmas tree skirt originated as a means of catching the wax drippings.

5) One of the things that has always bothered me is weird colored Christmas trees, which basically means any kind of tree that isn’t green. Artificial trees go back to the 1840s in Germany, when deforestation forced the Germans to improvise by crafting “feather trees” using turkey, ostrich, goose or swan feathers. Some Victorians built trees by wrapping cotton batting around dead branches. When Christmas was over, the branches could be burned or thrown away, and the cotton batting stored for another year.  In 1959, aluminum trees came into fashion, and were soon available in pink, of all fucking colors. At least you can say the white ones look like they're covered in snow.

What fuck is wrong with you people? ~ Kirsten Skiles

The latest craze is upside-down Christmas trees which are bolted to the ceiling, because putting up a Christmas tree was too easy as it was. I have seen them billed as “cat proof” by people who don’t understand cats.

At least it's not pink. ~ amberdeel