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The great tree debate

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The great tree debate

When it comes to Christmas trees, there are two big debates that pop up every year – real or fake? And just when are you supposed to put them up, asks James Middleton

Pic: A fake common Christmas tree. Credit: Pixabay

When it comes to Christmas trees, there are two big debates that pop up every year – real or fake? And just when are you supposed to put them up, asks James Middleton

Personally, I can’t stand Christmas. But I always give up resisting the imposition of the tree into my living room on the first of December. And, for price reasons, I prefer the invading force to be synthetic (It’s far easier to bear a tree in your living room when you don’t pay for a new one each year, I find).

But, believe it or not, I am not the only authority on Christmas etiquette. Traditionally, the tree would be put up and decorated on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, though in recent years that date has been pushed ever further back. The British Christmas Tree Growers Association suggests December 1 is a fine date to bring in your tree, but makes the specific suggestion of December 11. This is due to the BCTGA being firmly in one camp of a parallel tree-related debate: real vs fake. The suggested date, around the middle of December, was chosen to ensure that your organic tree wouldn’t be totally bare by the time Christmas Day rolled around. Which raises the question – why on earth by a natural tree at all? They’re more expensive and they’re going to cover your floor in needles (Pine needles, but still).

One concern is environmental. It’s counterintuitive, but cutting down trees en masse may actually be the more ecologically friendly choice, as synthetic choices are primarily made from harmful plastics. You’re also supporting local farmers, which they would likely be fairly grateful for – Christmas trees require eight years of growth to fully mature, which is quite an investment for any farmer.

It’s always nice to support local business. But, for this Grinch, cost-efficiency, lower flammability and not having thin green shoots scattered all over the carpet wins the day. As for when to put it up – as late as you can possibly manage.

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