While Christmas traditions vary around the world, one tradition seems remarkably uniform, and that is the Christmas tree. In the U.S. and other Western nations, Christmas trees tend to be the focal point of all the Christmas decorations around the house, and indeed, the focal point of the Christmas Day as well. Putting the Christmas tree up and decorating it can be one of the best parts of the Christmas season. Then there are places like Japan, where Christmas trees tend to be smaller and come pre-decorated, however, in the U.S., they tend to be conical, coniferous evergreens, and there are some types that are more popular than others.
According to different polls and surveys, the Scotch pine is the most commonly used Christmas tree in the United States. It's more open than other trees, which means more room for decorations and ornaments, and its needles will stay on for up to four weeks, even when the tree is dry. Thus, the shedding of needles is minimal when compared to some other species of conifers.
Other pines are popular as well, including the Virginia pine, because it has strong branches that can support heavier ornaments, and it carries a very strong pine scent, which can fill the whole house. This is an extremely popular Christmas tree in the southern U.S.
Fir trees are popular as well. The Fraser fir, for instance, has a very nice scent to make a home smell like Christmas, and has strong branches that curve upward, making it easier to put several ornaments on a single branch. It also has a very good conical shape, which is always desirable, and good needle retention so there is less shedding during the season than with other firs. The Fraser fir is also rather narrow, which makes it good for tight corners or smaller rooms.
The Balsam fir is a striking dark green tree with long branches that may or may not be able to support heavier ornaments, except very close to the trunk. It also has a nice fragrance to add a Christmasy smell to a home, and has rounded needles so people aren't as likely to get poked as they are with other types of conifers. The needles also stay on the tree through the holiday season.
Spruce trees are not as popular but can still make good Christmas trees if someone wants something slightly different. The Blue spruce, which is the state tree for both Utah and Colorado, is probably the best choice in the U.S. for spruce trees. It has short and stiff needles, but a nice conical shape and can range in color from dark green to a lighter bluish hue. Of all the spruces, it's the best for holding onto its needles through the holiday season but will drop them in a warm area, so it's best not to get a Blue spruce if the tree will be set up near a fireplace or in one of the warmer rooms of the house.
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