The Christmas tree is perhaps the most iconic symbol of Christmas. Real or fake, people have developed family traditions around their Christmas trees.
One common tradition many families enjoy is cutting down their own Christmas tree.
“Christmas tree cutting has been allowed on National Forest lands at least since 1905 and is a great family outing and experience in many families, not just here in Utah but just about everywhere,” said Kathy Jo Pollock, a public information officer for Forest Services.
Families who want to cut their own trees in Utah must first obtain a permit from Forest Services.
For others, tradition begins when families gather around and decorate their trees. Artificial trees may be preferred then for their ease and are a sought-after alternative to the natural pine tree.
“I like artificial trees because you don’t have to vacuum under them every ten seconds. They are much easy maintenance,” said Brooke Udall, a junior elementary education major from Mesa, Ariz. “Also, that’s what pine-tree scented candles are for. You use the candle to make your tree smell real.”
Caitrin Saiki, a senior from Davis, Calif., majoring in mathematics education, enjoys the tradition of assembling her family’s artificial tree.
“It takes a long time to put the tree together, but that’s sort of the best part because the Christmas season can be pretty busy and a little hectic, but we always devote an evening to putting our tree together,” Saiki said. “We just enjoy laughing at our old fake tree, spending time together and singing along with our ‘Christmas with the Chipmunks’ CD. It’s simple, but it’s one of my favorite traditions.”
Madeleine Homer, a junior from Midvale, majoring in biology education, prefers an artificial tree because it allows her to celebrate Christmas longer.
“We have always used an artificial tree, except for when I was very little, and I like it because we like to keep up our tree from before Thanksgiving … until after Christmas, and a real tree won’t last that long,” Homer said.
Families are not the only ones who appreciate the utility of artificial Christmas trees. The Festival of Trees, a fundraiser for Primary Children’s Hospital running Dec. 4–7, uses artificial trees as decorations and as part of their tree auction.
“The trees are all donated and decorated by individuals and some businesses in our community. Some decorators bring their trees from Idaho, Wyoming and Arizona,” said Karen Hansen, public relations officer for the Festival of Trees. “The trees are mostly artificial, but we have had trees made out of recycled tires, wood, metal and iron.”
The Festival uses artificial trees because the trees need to last the entire festival and then be delivered to the purchasers.
BYU used to have real Christmas trees on campus but now, artificial trees stand in their places because they are more consistent.
“The only time I remember real Christmas trees on campus was when I worked in the resident halls,” said June King, the custodial supervisor who oversees the Christmas decorations in the Wilkinson Center. “Each building would have a live tree delivered, and the students would decorate them.”
King said real trees also used to be used to decorate the Christmas Gala at Helaman Halls until the fire marshal said it was too dangerous to have live trees with lights, so now all campus trees have to be artificial trees.
For people like King, Christmas trees bring the Christmas spirit better than any other decoration, regardless of what type of tree is used.
“I think my most favorite part is knowing that the decorations for the students will help them to feel the Christmas spirit while on campus,” King said. “In a way, I think it gives kind of a homey feeling.”