Throughout history, many different cultures across the western world have decorated and celebrated with evergreen trees through the winter season. Their ability to maintain their colour and needles all year round has made them the symbol of hope and everlasting health and life. The Vikings are recorded to have used evergreens to worship their god, Balder through the dark winter months of Scandinavia. The druids believed that the decoration of evergreens on the Winter Solstice would bring their sun god back to health for the spring. The Romans would hang boughs and wreaths of evergreens around their temples to worship the god of agriculture during the winter. These influences forged the beginnings of the way in which Christians celebrate their winter festival. The Germans have been decorating indoor, cut evergreens since the 1600s, but it was not until the supremacy of Queen Victoria that the decoration of an evergreen inside the home was popularised in the UK.
In the early days, Christmas trees were decorated with candles, marzipan sweats, salt-dough festive shapes and wooden ornaments. They were lit with candles, wired onto each branch and dressed with golden beads and dyed popcorn strung together on thread.
Christmas trees have come a long way since sun gods, German folklore and Queen Victoria and today there is an exciting buffet of different decorative styles, scents and maintenance requirements! So, let's start by choosing the best tree for your needs...
Picking your Tree
The Classic Christmas Tree!
The Fraser Fir is a good all-rounder if your looking for a simple choice this season. A naturally conical shape, good needle retention and a traditional ever-green smell! The branches are strong and needles reasonably sparse meaning it holds up well to all manner of decorative style.
The Fairytale Christmas Tree!
The Concolor or 'White' Fir, as it's sometime referred to, features tightly packed needles offering a bushy appearance. It also has a distinctive silvery, colour making it seem like something from a Winter time fairy tale. It also has a reputation for strong needle retention, something your hoover will thank you for!
The Aromatic Christmas Tree!
A Balsam Fir is well known for its strong, spiced scent that so many relate with fond Christmas memories. If well watered, it rarely drops its needles making it an ideal indoor tree. Many artificial and fresh wreaths are made from Balsam Fir (or made to look like Balsam Fir) so this is the ideal tree if you are looking to match up your Christmas decorations and fill your house with aromas this season.
The Decorative Christmas Tree!
A White Spruce is known for its stiff, densely packed needles and strong, shorter branches giving it a naturally traditional shape. This also means they are ideal for hanging more ornate, heavier decorations on! The perfect pick if you like an adorned decorative style.
The Statement Christmas Tree!
A Scotch Pine has a distinctive bluesish hue to its colour making the branches appear a very dark green. The needles are thin and offer a delicate, feathery effect making this tree a unique option. It also has a woody, fresh aroma adding to that festive feeling your home this year.
The Quintessential Christmas Tree!
The traditional conical shape and full, pendulous branches of a Norwegian Spruce make it the picture-perfect tree in any setting. So much so that it features outside the Rockfeller Centre in New York! However, unless cut fresh and watered regularly the needles start to drop very quickly, and if you are positioning your tree in your living room this may not be ideal.
Once you have chosen your ideal tree and brought it home it's time to think about decorations. If the original décor of popcorn strings, dried berries and lit candles aren't your thing then there are lots of other style and designs out there...
Decorating your Tree
From the minimalist 'less is more' styles of Scandinavia to the bold and brassy and concepts of American... there are many different styles to dress your Christmas tree. No matter what colours, materials, textures and styles you choose, decorating a Christmas tree always follows the same pattern...
1. Lights are always first! Take your time measuring up the length of the lights to ensure a balance of light through the branches.
2. Beading, ribbon lengths, mini garlands and tinsel should mirror the positioning of the lights.
3. Cluster your baubles into groups of three, of varying shapes and sizes.
4. Work in a 'Z' pattern across the tree, remembering your groupings of three or six.
5. Layer your other decorations, especially those that sparkle, to draw the eye into the denser parts of the branches and the lower echelons.
6. Place your most prized, sentimental or special decorations last, to make sure they have a prominent location on the tree.
7. Choose your tree topper carefully and make sure it is wired onto the top branch securely so that it sits straight
TOP TIP: You may find it helpful to use a Decoration Spacer which you will find a downloadable template for online or make your own by measuring out a piece of cardboard.
This year we are finding families decorating their homes far earlier then they have in previous years, so it is paramount that you learn how to successfully maintain your tree so it's still looking its best on Christmas Day...
Maintaining your Tree
When your tree first arrives home with you, make sure the stand is filled with water! Just like a bouquet of flowers your tree has been cut and needs plenty of water to keep it perky. Remember to refresh the water and check the level every week. There is an old tradition of using a drop cola in your tree stand to supply the tree with some sugars as well!
Make sure your tree is not in front of a hot radiator. If this is the only place for your tree you may want to turn the radiator down so that the tree appears fresher and doesn't drop as many needles. If there is the opportunity, the tree may benefit from being in front of a window or set of French doors. This will keep it cooler, give it some sunlight and the street outside can appreciate your hard work!
So, there you have it... from why we display Christmas trees to which tree to choose and how to decorate and maintain it! Trust in The Arb Team to bring you the festive facts you need to know to make your Christmas tree stand out this season.