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Christmas Trees

A Christmas tradition

by Helen Bryant (revised, originally published in 2012)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To explore the role of the Christmas tree.

Preparation and materials

  • None required.


  1. I wonder how many of us are getting excited about putting up our Christmas tree. Some of us may even have our trees up already.

    You may wish to take a straw poll and discover when the students put theirs up.

    Traditionally, Christmas trees were put up on Christmas Eve and kept until 6 January, Twelfth Night. However, nowadays, many people put their trees up as early as the beginning of December - and some do it even earlier!

  2. Have you ever considered what a Christmas tree has been through before we arrive to buy one? To grow a Christmas tree from seed to a height of two metres (7 feet) takes between eight and 12 years. This means that, if we have a real tree, it could be as old as we are or one of our siblings.

    First, the seeds are extracted from cones that are harvested from older trees. These seeds are usually germinated and grown in nurseries. When the saplings are three to four years old, they are sold to Christmas tree farms. They are then cultivated until they have grown to the desired size, at which point they are cut down and transported to shops and garden centres, ready for us to buy them.

  3. We choose our tree carefully and take it home before adorning it with lights, baubles and stars. We enjoy it in our home until Christmas has passed. Then, we take it down and leave it outside to be recycled.

    This might sound a bit silly, but I’m always a little worried about the ones that aren’t bought by somebody. What happens to them? I think I’d rather not know.

  4. Of course, if we’re worried that all this is rather wasteful, we could buy a synthetic Christmas tree to use year after year. However, that would mean that we’d miss out on the special character and scent of a real tree, which is part of the Christmas experience for many people.

  5. Whatever kind of tree we have, though, the thing that they all have in common is that they bring much joy – and not in the materialistic way that can sometimes be the case with Christmas.
    Think about your Christmas tree - whether it’s up already or you’re going to wait a little while before getting it. Who puts it up? Many people do this as a family. The baubles and other decorations are brought down from the loft and everyone helps. You might even play carols and other Christmas music while you’re doing it. Perhaps somewhere on your tree is a decoration that you made when you were little. You may buy one or more new baubles or decorations each year. Maybe you have some decorations that belonged to your grandparents.

  6. A Christmas tree brings joy and light into any home. One of the best things about these dark winter nights is that, when you are out and about, you can see people’s Christmas trees in their windows, shining out and sparkling through the gloom. Their evergreen leaves hint at the eternal nature of this tradition. Families put presents under the tree and, by giving and receiving gifts, they express their love for one another.

  7. So, although it will be sad when we take down and recycle this year’s tree, let’s take the time to remember and appreciate it just that bit more for the joy that it brings us.

Time for reflection

Take a moment to think quietly about your Christmas tree and be thankful. Think also about the people who contribute to making our Christmas special, whether that’s at home, at school, in church or in the community. Let’s make sure that they know that we are thankful for them this Christmas.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for Christmas and for all the things that we look forward to and enjoy.
Please be with those people who will not have a tree this year.
Please be with those for whom Christmas will be a sad time.
May we always be grateful for the special things that we enjoy at Christmastime.


‘O Christmas tree’, available at: (3.33 minutes long)

Publication date: December 2021   (Vol.23 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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