O’ Tannenbaum…

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There’s nothing quite like the distinctive scent of pine and the slightly irregular arrangement of branches that are among the hallmarks of a real fir tree.

Nor does anything conjure up a traditional Christmas scene in quite the same way. But how did this evergreen tradition come about?

Christmas trees are widely thought to have pagan origins when evergreen plants were used for decoration to celebrate the Winter Solstice on December 21st, the shortest day and longest night of the year.

These pagan festivals recognised the changing seasons and owed much to common beliefs such as lighting logs to banish evil spirits, conquer darkness and bring good luck for the year ahead. Such customs are often followed through the ages and manifest in different forms, which brings us to the much-loved Christmas tree.

Everything from royal influences to German origins are thought to have played a part in bringing the Christmas tree into our homes or, in some cases, into our gardens where some people think they should stay, pine needles and all, and be decorated and admired in situ.

But don’t let shedding pine needles put you off from bringing your lovely tree indoors. There is plenty you can do to minimise needle drop such as keeping the tree in a cool place until you’re ready to decorate it, regular watering so it doesn’t dry out and avoiding direct heat. You can also pick a species whose needles are less likely to part company from the branches such as a Nordmann Fir.

Whatever setting you prefer, there is a wealth of tree types to choose from. Norway spruce, Scots pine, Fraser and Douglas fir are just some other familiar names. And, if you need any inspiration about decorating your lovely real tree, then take a look at some of our most notable landmarks where no other type would do, think London’s Trafalgar Square and Number 10 Downing Street. You might have to downsize just a tad to pull off a similar look in your own home or garden but there’s nothing wrong with that.

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