An artificial Christmas tree is an artificial pine or fir tree manufactured for the specific purpose of use as a Christmas tree. The earliest artificial Christmas trees were wooden, tree-shaped pyramids or feather trees, both developed by Germans. Most modern trees are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) but many other types of trees have been and are available, including aluminum Christmas trees and fiber-optic illuminated Christmas trees.
The first artificial Christmas trees were developed in Germany during the 19th century,though earlier examples exist. These "trees" were made using goose feathers that were dyed green. The German feather trees were one response by Germans to continued deforestation in Germany. Developed in the 1880s, the feather trees became increasingly popular during the early part of the 20th century. The German feather trees eventually made their way to the United States where they became rather popular as well. In fact, the use of natural Christmas trees in the United States was pre-dated by a type of artificial tree. These first trees were wooden, tree-shaped pyramids lit by candles, they were developed in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, by the German Moravian Church in 1747.
Feather Christmas trees, originally of German origin, became popular in the United States as well. Feather trees were initially made of green-dyed goose feathers which were attached to wire branches. 5-centimeter (2-inch) tree to a large 2.5-meter (98-inch) tree sold in department stores during the 1920s. Often, the tree branches were tipped with artificial red berries which acted as candle holders. The branches were widely spaced to keep the candles from starting a fire, which allowed ample space for ornamentation. Other benefits touted for feather trees included the elimination of a trip to the tree lot and the lack of shed needles.These wire branches were then wrapped around a central dowel which acted as the trunk Feather Christmas trees ranged widely in size, from a small
In 1930 a British-based Addis Housewares Company created the first artificial Christmas tree made from brush bristles.The trees were made from the same animal-hair bristles used in toilet brushes, save they were dyed green.
Aluminum trees were manufactured in the United States, first in Chicago in 1958,and later in Manitowoc, Wisconsin where the majority of the trees were produced. Aluminum trees were manufactured into the 1970s, and had their height of popularity from their inception until about 1965. That year A Charlie Brown Christmas aired for the first time, and its negative portrayal of aluminum Christmas trees is credited for a subsequent decline in sales.
Most artificial Christmas trees are made from PVC plastic. PVC trees are fire-retardant but not fire-resistant.Many of these trees are made in China; from January to August 2005 $69 million worth of artificial trees from China entered the United States.
The prelit tree has become increasingly popular in the United States and Germany as well, due to added ease of not having to string one's own lights. Types of lights popular today include incandescent lights (also referred to as "mini lights") and LED lights (where each bulb has its own socket, preventing the whole string from going out should one bulb burn out).Prelit trees are subject to the mandatory regulations for the safety standards of electrical products and have to meet safety standards approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as UL (Underwriters Labs), CSA (Canadian Standards Association), ETL (Intertek), GS, BS and RoHS. Artificial Christmas trees may be "frosted" or "glittered" and designed for outdoor uses with UV additives. Plastic trees can come in a variety of different colors, and one type came with built-in speakers and an MP3 player.
Companies such as Mountain King, Barcana and the National Tree Company have marketed increasingly realistic PVC trees made to closely resemble Douglas fir, Ponderosa pine or other common types of Christmas trees.During the 1990s trees not only began to appear more realistic but some also smelled more realistic. Many of these more modern models come with pre-strung lights and hinged branches which simply had to be snapped into position. More recently, companies such as Balsam Hill have begun to use (PE) plastic molded from natural tree branches in an effort to create more realistic artificial Christmas trees.
Trends in artificial tree consumption have constantly evolved and a number of designer and other types of artificial Christmas trees have appeared on the market. Fiber optic trees come in two major varieties, one resembles a traditional Christmas tree.The other type of fiber optic Christmas tree is one where the entire tree is made of wispy fiber optic cable, a tree composed entirely of light. David Gutshall, of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, received a patent for the latter type of fiber optic tree in 1998.
One Dallas-based company offers "holographic mylar" trees in many hues. [ citation needed ] Upside-down artificial Christmas trees were originally introduced as a marketing gimmick; they allowed consumers to get closer to ornaments for sale in retail stores as well as opened up floor space for more products. There were three varieties of upside-down trees, those bolted to the ceiling, stand alone trees with a base, and half-trees bolted to walls.Tree-shaped objects made from such materials as cardboard, glass, ceramic or other materials can be found in use as tabletop decorations.
The tradition of putting up and decorating a Christmas tree is nothing new. It is the iconic symbol of the holiday and has become a focal point in the homes of those who participate in Christmas festivities. It is a ritual activity that many have fond memories of and there is a nostalgia to having a real tree. However, there was a change from classic to modern and this change occurred when numerous other artifacts became plasticized. The culture of Christmas intersects with the culture of plastic, and so the artificial Christmas tree is born. Its popularity has grown since its invention, creating a new demand. "Reports cite a 34 percent drop in live tree sales the past decade, and a 30 percent rise last year alone in the sale of fake trees, to 9.6 million".A demand for plastic starts with economics: how cheap plastic objects are compared to their non-plastic counterpart. "…uncertain economic times ensure more Americans will be looking at Christmas trees as an investment…a single artificial Christmas tree costs 70 percent less than the purchase of ten real Christmas trees over the same period of time". All of this mixed with our convenience culture that enjoys the ease of new technologies, the artificial Christmas tree has blossomed into the holiday staple that it is today.
In 1992, in the United States, about 46 percent of homes displaying Christmas trees displayed an artificial tree.Twelve years later, a 2004 ABC News/ The Washington Post poll revealed that 58 percent of U.S. residents used an artificial tree instead of a natural tree. The real versus artificial tree debate has been popular in mass media through the early 21st century. The debate is a frequent topic of news articles during the Christmas holiday season. Early 21st century coverage of the debate focused on the decrease in natural Christmas tree sales, and rise in artificial tree sales over the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The rise in popularity of artificial trees did not go unnoticed by the Christmas tree farming industry in the United States. In 2004, the U.S. Christmas tree industry hired the advertising agency Smith-Harroff to spearhead an ad campaign aimed at rejuvenating lagging sales of natural trees.A 1975 poll by Michigan State University showed the reasons why consumers were beginning to prefer artificial over natural Christmas trees. The reasons included safety, one-time purchasing, and environmental responsibility but the biggest reason respondents gave pollsters was no messy needle clean up.
Most artificial Christmas trees are manufactured in the Pearl River Delta area in China.Between January and September 2011, over 79.7 million dollars worth of artificial Christmas trees were exported to the United States. The number of artificial Christmas trees imported to United States rose 139 million in the same nine-month period in 2012. Promoters of artificial trees highlight them as convenient, reusable, and of better quality than artificial trees of old. Supporters also note that some apartment buildings have banned natural trees because of fire concerns.
There is also a robust market for artificial Christmas trees in Poland. An estimated 20 percent of all Christmas trees sold in Poland are artificial, and many are made domestically by individual families. One producer from Koziegłówki [ who? ] stated that every other house was an artificial tree producer. The trees are made from a special film which is imported mostly from China or Thailand. Entire families take part in production and the trees are sold throughout Poland with some being exported to the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The main artificial Christmas tree producer in Poland is in Piła.
The debate about the environmental impact of artificial trees is ongoing. Generally, natural tree growers contend that artificial trees are more environmentally harmful than their natural counterpart.On the other side of the debate, trade groups such as the American Christmas Tree Association, continue to refute that artificial trees are more harmful to the environment and maintain that the PVC used in Christmas trees has excellent recyclable properties. One researcher at Kansas State University called the idea that artificial trees are eco-friendly an "urban myth".
In the past, lead was often used as a stabilizer in PVC, but it is now prohibited by Chinese laws.[ citation needed ] Most PVC materials for making artificial Christmas trees are now using tin as a stabilizer.[ citation needed ] PVC was used in some of the 2007 recalled Chinese toys. A 2004 study found that while in general artificial trees pose little health risk from lead contamination, there do exist "worst-case scenarios" where major health risks to young children are present. The lead author of the 2004 study, Dr. Richard Maas, noted in 2005: "We found that if we leave one of these trees standing for a week, and we wipe under the tree we'll find large amounts of lead dust in many cases under the tree".
In 2007, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) asked the Consumer Products Safety Commission to investigate lead levels in Chinese imported artificial trees.Lead-free artificial Christmas trees do exist; for example, one U.S.-based company uses barium instead of lead as a stabilizer in its PVC trees. A 2008 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report found that as the PVC in artificial Christmas trees aged it began to degrade. The report determined that of the 50 million artificial trees in the United States approximately 20 million were 9 or more years old, the point where dangerous lead contamination levels are reached.
Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is preceded by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world's nations, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season centered around it.
A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer, such as a spruce, pine, or fir, or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of Christmas, originating in Germany associated with Saint Boniface. The custom was developed in medieval Livonia, and in early modern Germany where German Protestant Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. It acquired popularity beyond the Lutheran areas of Germany and the Baltic governorates during the second half of the 19th century, at first among the upper classes.
Christmas lights are lights often used for decoration in celebration of Christmas, often on display throughout the Christmas season including Advent and Christmastide. The custom goes back to when Christmas trees were decorated with candles, which symbolized Christ being the light of the world. This custom was borrowed from pagan yule rituals that celebrate the return of the light of the sun as the days grow longer after solstice: the evergreen trees symbolising the renewal and continuance of life in dark times. The Christmas trees were brought by Christians into their homes in early modern Germany.
Tinsel is a type of decorative material that mimics the effect of ice, consisting of thin strips of sparkling material attached to a thread. When in long narrow strips not attached to thread, it is called "lametta", and emulates icicles. It was originally a metallic garland for Christmas decoration. The modern production of tinsel typically involves plastic, and is used particularly to decorate Christmas trees. It may be hung from ceilings or wrapped around statues, lampposts, and so on. Modern tinsel was invented in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1610, and was originally made of shredded silver.
Artificial leather, also called synthetic leather, is a material intended to substitute for leather in upholstery, clothing, footwear, and other uses where a leather-like finish is desired but the actual material is cost-prohibitive or unsuitable. Artificial leather is known under many names, including "leatherette", "faux leather", "vegan leather", "PU leather" and "pleather".
A luminaria or farolito is a small paper lantern which is of significance in the U.S. state of New Mexico in southwest United States at Christmas time, especially on Christmas Eve. They are also used in Hispanic culture. These paper lanterns have to some extent replaced the older tradition of the vigil fire luminaria with which they became confused.
Light tubes are physical structures used for transmitting or distributing natural or artificial light for the purpose of illumination, and are examples of optical waveguides.
Christmas tree production occurs worldwide on Christmas tree farms, in artificial tree factories and from native strands of pine and fir trees. Christmas trees, pine and fir trees purposely grown for use as a Christmas tree, are grown on plantations in many western nations, including Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. In Australia, the industry is relatively new, and nations such as the United States, Germany and Canada are among world leaders in annual production.
Christmas tree cultivation is an agricultural, forestry, and horticultural occupation which involves growing pine, spruce, and fir trees specifically for use as Christmas trees.
While the first Christmas tree farm may have appeared as early as 1901, Christmas tree production in the United States was largely limited to what could be harvested from natural forests until the 1950s. Among the important Christmas tree producing areas in the U.S. are Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and the Pacific Northwest. In 2002 Christmas tree production in the United States totaled 20.8 million trees and the U.S. was one of the world's leading producers of natural Christmas trees. That same year, Pennsylvania was the top producer in the United States.
Holiday lighting technology has been subject to considerable development and variation since the replacement of candles by electric lights. While originally used during the Christmas holidays as Christmas lights, modern electric light arrays have become popular around the world in many cultures and are used both during religious festivals and for other purposes unconnected to any festivities.
An aluminum Christmas tree is a type of artificial Christmas tree that was popular in the United States from 1958 until about the mid-1960s. As its name suggests, the tree is made of aluminum, featuring foil needles and illumination from below via a rotating color wheel.
The American Christmas Tree Association is an American, non-profit organization and industry trade group that represents those involved in the artificial Christmas tree industry. The president of the group is Thomas Harman, who is also the president and CEO of Balsam Hill, a seller of artificial trees.
Attack of the Mutant Artificial Trees is a free online video game developed as part of a marketing campaign by the National Christmas Tree Association in 2004. The game was meant to support the natural Christmas tree industry and received criticism from artificial tree producers. It has been described as similar to Whac-A-Mole.
A Christmas tree stand is an object designed to support a cut, natural or an artificial Christmas tree. Christmas tree stands appeared as early as 1876 and have had various designs over the years. Those stands designed for natural trees have a water-well, which, in many cases may not hold enough water to adequately supply the cut tree. Some specialty Christmas tree stands have value on the secondary antiques market.
Christmas in the United States during the post-war years (1946–1964) reflected a period of peace, productivity, and prosperity. Americans staged sumptuous Christmases and enjoyed a variety of holiday foods unknown to previous generations. Several films, foods, toys, and television programs of the era have become American Christmas traditions.
A feather Christmas tree is a type of artificial Christmas tree that is generally considered one of the first artificial trees used as a Christmas tree. They originated in Germany in the late 19th century and became popular in the United States during the early 20th century.
Hybrid solar lighting (HSL) or hybrid lighting systems combine the use of solar with artificial light for interior illumination by channelling sunlight through fiber optic cable bundles to provide solar light into rooms without windows or skylights, and by supplementing this natural light with artificial light—typically LED—as required.
A prelit tree is a convergent product of Christmas lights and an artificial Christmas tree. The product is an artificial fir tree that comes pre-wired and strung with lights, which cannot be removed and are usually embedded within the artificial branches. The product can be sold as a kit - the user assembles the tree and plugs it into an electrical outlet - or the dealer may assemble it before the sale. Prelit trees may have traditional mini bulb lights, LED lights, or fiber-optic lights. Larger trees usually contain traditional strands of bulb lights while smaller tabletop trees have fiber optic branches. Some more expensive trees come with energy-efficient LED lights. Prelit trees are being classified into the categories of electrical products.
A Singing Christmas Tree, sometimes called a Living Christmas Tree, is an artificial Christmas tree filled with singers used as part of nativity plays.