8 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know about Christmas Trees

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The Christmas tree smell means the tree is dying and other fun facts.

Photo by Scott Feldman via Flickr

On DnA this week, we examined social entrepreneurship-the idea of pairing profit with social good- in the context of environmentally friendly Christmas trees. Along the way, we learned a few interesting facts about the fragrant symbols of the holiday season. 


1. The “Christmas tree smell” one usually associates with the holiday season is actually the smell of a Christmas tree slowly dying.

DnA recently learned this depressing news from Scott Martin aka Scotty Claus, the founder of The Living Christmas Company. Instead of selling the standard cut Christmas tree, they rent out live trees that customers keep in their homes for 4 weeks.

Greetings from Krampus!

2. The Christmas tree as we understand it today has its roots in early modern Germany.

Thankfully, we didn’t inherit every Christmas tradition from Germany. Along with Santa Claus and other Christmas icons, German children grow up learning about Krampus, the menacing Christmas beast who torments children who misbehave.

Photo by Oregon Department of Transportation via Flickr

3. Your Christmas tree likely was cut down in North Carolina or Oregon.

Sixty-two percent of Christmas trees cut in 2012 came from either Oregon or North Carolina with 6.4 million from the former and 4.3 million from the latter. Michigan was the 3rd largest Christmas tree-producing state in 2012, coming in with 1.7 million.

Photo by  Ted Eytan  via Flickr
Photo by Ted Eytan via Flickr

4. A Third of American Jews put up Christmas Trees in their homes. 

The Los Angeles Times reported that in 2012 about a third of Jewish-American families had a Christmas tree in their home. Scott Martin of The Living Christmas Company told us on a recent DnA that 15% of all of his customers are Jewish.

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5. You can design the Christmas lights on a White House Christmas Tree. 

In a collaboration with Google’s “Made With Code” project, users can customize Christmas tree lights in a program, pick a tree outside the White House to display them on and schedule a time to run your Christmas tree light coding.

h/t Vox

6. Speaking of White House Christmas trees…back in 2009 Simon Doonan decorated the White House Christmas Tree, and a conservative blogger accused him of inciting a communist gay plot. 

Yep, that happened. Read more about it here, or you can hear Simon recount the tale on The Moth.

Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library

7. There was once a “Miss Christmas Tree” pageant in Los Angeles. 

There’s not much information out there about the Miss Christmas Tree pageant that once took place in Los Angeles, but from a photo from the LA Public Library, we do know that in 1959 there were two Miss Christmas Tree winners: Dorothy Barnes, 16, left, of Tujunga, and Carol Ann Payne, 16, of Sunland.

Photo by Todd Fahrner via Flickr

8. Biking home your Christmas Tree is Relatively Doable

This week, the Atlantic’s CityLab gave a step-by-step guide on how to lug home your tree on two wheels. The key is to have it shrink-wrapped, have a bungee cord and be prepared to sweat.

You can listen to our segment on living Christmas trees below.