If you’re like most Central Albertans, you will open your presents under an artificial Christmas tree this year.
But if you’re like a growing number of Millennials, you opted for a real tree — complete with its aromatic pine scent and dropping needles.
North American Christmas tree sellers are reporting a 10 per cent jump in sales this year — mostly because more young people, born between 1981 and 1996, are setting up on their own and buying pine Christmas trees instead of plastic ones.
While an estimated 80 per cent of households, according to a U.S. survey, decorate artificial trees every year, an increasing number of young people are bringing back back the real Christmas tree tradition — whether they chop down their own or buy one from a tree lot.
“I prefer real trees over fake ones,” says Brayden Engel, of Red Deer, who attributes his preference to a love of the outdoors — as well as nostalgic memories of his father going out into the woods to cut down a tree.
The debate over which kind of Christmas tree is more environmental swings in favour of real trees, which take less energy to produce and can be turned into mulch and kept out of landfills. If artificial tree-owners want to be more green, experts advise buying a used fake Christmas tree to extend its usefulness.
The majority of people who choose artificial trees like that they are cheaper over the long-term and are easier to maintain. “I prefer the fake because you can keep it every year,” said area resident Dustin Barnes.
Dawn Lavers, of Ponoka, says she bought artificial because “I don’t like the bugs,” that can be found in real trees — “and I hate the pine needle mess.”
While Jessica Thull of Blackfalds likes that plastic Christmas trees are “less messy,” she admits she misses the real thing.
For purists who grew up with pine Christmas trees, nothing else will do: “It feels more like Christmas when you get that smell in the house,” says Alisa Munroe of Red Deer.
“And I like the adventure, where you go out looking for the perfect Christmas tree… “
Munroe recalls bringing home a real tree one year that was missing some branches on one side. Her dad went into the backyard to cut a few boughs from an outdoor tree. He then drilled holes into the purchased Christmas tree trunk and stuck in these branches to fill the gaps.
“Now you can’t do that with a fake tree!” she said, with a chuckle.
Frank Ravat grew up in England, where the smells of Christmas included roasted chestnuts sold from outdoor carts and the pine scent of Christmas trees. Selecting a real tree was an annual family tradition, he added.