Natural or Artificial — Both trees evoke spirit of the season

Jack Stensland, Sports Editor

Real or fake? Some families hotly debate between choosing a real live blue spruce that will fill the house with the scent of pine or choosing one that will eliminate the possibility of stepping on pine needles on the 4th of July. The Christmas tree has traditionally been one of the main centers of attention involving the holiday, falling only behind Santa Claus and presents in its importance.

Artificial Christmas trees are synthetic trees fabricated in order to cut down the cost, the mess and the time owning a real tree requires. Sales of fake trees were up six percent in 2013 compared to 2012. In 2013 companies sold a record 13.4 million trees.

Manufactures of artificial trees incorporate extra qualities not present in real trees, such as convenient electrical connections and on/off switches to make them easier to decorate. Over the years companies have strived to create a product as close in resemblance to the real tree as possible. Because of all the accessories and extra features involved with the artificial tree, prices can reach close to $1,000 dollars — the price of the Balsam Hir Fir, the number one rated synthetic tree in the world according to goodhousekeeping.com.

“Owning a fake tree takes away all the hassle of taking care of and cleaning up after a real tree,” junior Amber Couch said. “One year my family’s tree died before Christmas because we forgot to take care of it. With an artificial tree, we don’t have to worry about that.”

Artificial trees may be more fiscally responsible and more time efficient than natural trees, however, some will argue that artificial trees lack the authentic Christmas spirit only found in natural trees. To the families obsessed with the idea of a traditional Christmas, the smell and feel of a real tree is more important than saving money and time.

“It is nice having a real tree during the holiday season,” junior Brittani Eppler said. “It gives off an authentic Christmas vibe that puts a big smile on my face.”

Natural trees, depending on the type, are more sturdy than artificial trees and can often hold the weight of more ornaments. They bring a fresh smell and are the traditional centerpiece of the house. Natural trees, however, pose the hassle of a cleanup and can sometimes bring unwanted critters, such as spiders and other bugs, into the house through the dense bundle of pine needles.

As Couch and her family experienced, natural trees can die — leaving a mess of pine needles that are hard to clean up.

Families often enjoy the whole experience of owning a real Christmas tree — from chopping it down to decorating it. These family activities and gatherings are lost when an artificial tree that only requires decorating one time is introduced.

“Gathering around a lively, green tree with my family putting up ornaments is one of my favorite things about the holidays,” sophomore John Franklin said. “Everyone always enjoys being a part of festivities like that, who couldn’t.”

“Having a family gathering over decorating the Christmas tree is nice and all, but it is not for everyone,” Couch said. “My family doesn’t need a tree in order to get together and have a good time.”

The growth of the artificial Christmas tree industry is prominent and is heavily affecting the sales of natural trees. As the artificial tree sales experienced a record year, natural trees experienced an all-time low for sales. With an estimated national sale of around 40 million trees, the effects of higher quality artificial trees are very apparent.

Whether going for a tree that reduces mess and saves time or for one that creates a traditional Christmas feel, one thing will remain the same: the family will enjoy the tree no matter what.