Authentic VS Artificial: Which Type of Christmas Tree is Best?

Avery Chalk, Writer

This December, will Christmas tree hunting be on an open farm…or the nearest Target?

Festive trees have been a holiday staple for centuries. Recently, more and more families have been making the switch from genuine pine to synthetic greenery. But, which is better, and why the shift in a once-classic decoration?

Allegedly, the first artificial Christmas tree was developed in Germany in response to climbing deforestation rates during the 19th century. Families used dyed goose feathers to remain festive whilst minimally harming the planet. Since, a thin plastic-like material has replaced the feathers and now claims the prize as the most commonly used textile for fake trees.

An illustration of some of the first Christmas trees. (American Antiquarian Society)

A myriad of reasons could explain why many have veered away from the trees of the past. Convenience, cost efficiency, and even visual preferences remain significant contributing factors at the top of the list. Artificial trees are less hassle to assemble, and can even stay put-together throughout the off-season for easy storage. On average, artificial trees can cost anywhere from $50 to $300 but need only be bought once – subjectively more favorable than the financial upkeep of real Christmas trees, which tend to fetch around $75 every single year. Lastly, some may merely prefer the overall “look” of a fake tree. With no risk of dead or broken needles and a ramrod trunk, artificial Christmas trees are sure to appear picture-perfect, every time. 

Vedika Vinayak, a Junior at FHS and editor of Pantherbook, is one of many Americans who decorate ingenuine trees for the holidays. “For a real tree you need to put a lot more effort into making it look good…”, she insists. “Artificial trees are just much more efficient and reasonable!”

While artificial greenery has certainly risen in popularity, real Christmas trees are nowhere close to extinction. Genuine trees provide nostalgia, charming imperfections, and of course, the signature smell of Christmas. While not the most trendy, a miscellaneous assortment of cherished ornaments, combined with languid branches, provide a sort of charm. Freshly-cut trees, having dominated Christmas for centuries, are also what most adults equate their childhood tree to being. For many, the smell of true pine brings the sentiment of Christmas’ past that simply can’t be bottled up and sold. 

Some synthetic trees can be “flocked” (covered in fake snow). (PB)

Erin Chalk, a Junior at FHS, has been using a real tree for years. “My family puts up a real tree every year”, she explains. “For me, Christmas starts feeling real only when I can smell the tree in my living room.”

With little time left until Christmas, it’s time to start making a decision. Prefer something contemporary, cost-efficient, and polished? Go with a artificial option, and continue to decorate it for years. However, choose the latter and a whimsical holiday isn’t far off… complete with a perfectly-imperfect centerpiece.

Whichever type of tree is chosen, remember to spend time with family, bake some cookies, and make the most of this holiday season!