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Christmas trees spell big business for U.S. tree farms

Cultura Garden Club members celebrated Christmas at the home of Brenda Oliver. This was a covered dish dinner with ham, delicious casseroles and many tasty desserts. Co-hostesses were Brenda Oliver and Debbie Nale.

Doris Woodruff presented the program on the history of the Christmas tree.

Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century, when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. It is a widely-held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, was the first to add lighted candles to a tree.

Approximately 25-30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. every year, with an approximate market value of $1.01 billion. In the United States, there are more than 15,000 Christmas tree farms with approximately 350,000 acres of land used for growing Christmas trees.

Approximately 100,000 people are employed full or part time in the Christmas tree production industry. North American real Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states and Canada.

In 1856 Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States, was the first president to place a Christmas tree in the White House.

President Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn in 1923. The first Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center was erected in 1931, during the Depression-era construction of Rockefeller Center, when workers decorated a smaller 20-foot balsam fir with “strings of cranberries, garlands of paper and even a few tin cans” on Christmas Eve. With the lighting of the 50-foot-tall first official tree two years later, the tree became what Rockefeller Center dubbed “a holiday beacon for New Yorkers and visitors alike.”

A skating rink was opened below the tree in the plaza in 1936.

There are more than 4,000 Christmas tree recycling programs across the nation. Ninety-three percent of real Christmas tree consumers recycle their tree in community recycling programs, their garden or backyard. Recycled real Christmas trees have been used to make sand and soil erosion barriers, placed in ponds for fish shelter, and used as a habitat for wildlife.

Mrs. Woodruff gave each member an artificial Christmas tree to display for the holidays.

Hillary Hall, president, thanked members for their volunteer work in decorating downtown for the Christmas holidays. A report on the Every Light a Prayer for Peace ceremony and Veterans Reception was given. Each year this event grows with more attendance. Everyone was commended for their work in making it a success.

Also an appreciation for the club’s donation and support of “The Roxy’s Christmas Spectacular” was acknowledged.

Members enjoyed a fun Christmas gift exchange and were encouraged to attend the many community events planned for the Christmas holidays.