Under the Marxist-Leninist doctrine of state atheism in the Soviet Union, after its foundation in 1917, Christmas celebrations—along with other religious holidays—were prohibited as a result of the Soviet anti-religious campaign.[125][126][127] The League of Militant Atheists encouraged school pupils to campaign against Christmas traditions, among them being the Christmas tree, as well as other Christian holidays, including Easter; the League established an anti-religious holiday to be the 31st of each month as a replacement.[128] With the Christmas tree being prohibited in accordance with Soviet anti-religious legislation, people supplanted the former Christmas custom with New Year's trees.[127][129] In 1935 the tree was brought back as New Year tree and became a secular, not a religious holiday.
A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine, or fir or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of Christmas. The modern Christmas tree was developed in medieval Livonia (present-day Estonia and Latvia) and early modern Germany, where Protestant Germans brought decorated trees into their homes.[1][2] It acquired popularity beyond the Lutheran areas of Germany[1][3] and the Baltic countries during the second half of the 19th century, at first among the upper classes.[4]
The Black & Decker Smart Stand has a unique design that includes three sharp metal blades that grip a tree’s trunk after it’s been dropped into the stand, with no need to tighten anything. But it’s gotten a lot of negative reviews on Amazon. The Steel Welded Large Tree Stand and the Resin Tree Stand, like so many others, hold the tree with four bolts that must be threaded the entire way in. The water reservoir is also much smaller than those of the Krinner and Cinco. The Holiday Time Christmas Tree Stand is inexpensive but looks flimsy and also supports the tree with simple bolts.
The Emerald Innovations stand in particular had our hopes up because it lets you adjust the angle of the tree by pressing a foot pedal and turning the tree on a large ball joint. But the initial setup proved more of a hassle than any other method: A separate sleeve fits over the tree’s trunk while it’s lying down, and you secure it with screw-down clamps. Then you fit the sleeve and tree together into the base. The frustrating setup, along with the lack of stability, outweighed the otherwise cool design.
A creative and relatively easy-to-work assembly: Slide a little cone-shaped piece on the trunk of the tree, then pick up the tree and drop that into the base. Tap the lever in the base with your foot to allow you to adjust the tree until it’s straight, then lock it in position. This base has a small diameter of 19.25 inches, since it doesn’t have the long arms of other options. Just be warned: It can’t take trees with trunks larger than five inches in diameter, and the water reservoir is tough to fill, since you have access only at the little slot at the top of the stand.
Wirecutter has been researching and testing Christmas tree stands since 2012. In that time, we’ve thoroughly vetted more than 35 stands and done hands-on testing with five. We’ve also read everything we can about Christmas tree stands, from a comparison in the The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) to a Christmas-themed blog called Miss Bee’s Christmas Tree (although not a professional reviewer, Miss Bee is pretty serious about tree stands). We’ve also scoured user reviews on the websites of several major retailers and perused a variety of “best of” lists (most of which, alas, rely mainly on those same websites, with little, if any, testing.)

Several cities in the United States with German connections lay claim to that country's first Christmas tree: Windsor Locks, Connecticut, claims that a Hessian soldier put up a Christmas tree in 1777 while imprisoned at the Noden-Reed House,[57] while the "First Christmas Tree in America" is also claimed by Easton, Pennsylvania, where German settlers purportedly erected a Christmas tree in 1816. In his diary, Matthew Zahm of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, recorded the use of a Christmas tree in 1821, leading Lancaster to also lay claim to the first Christmas tree in America.[58] Other accounts credit Charles Follen, a German immigrant to Boston, for being the first to introduce to America the custom of decorating a Christmas tree.[59] August Imgard, a German immigrant living in Wooster, Ohio, is said to be the first to popularize the practice of decorating a tree with candy canes.[citation needed] In 1847, Imgard cut a blue spruce tree from a woods outside town, had the Wooster village tinsmith construct a star, and placed the tree in his house, decorating it with paper ornaments, gilded nuts and Kuchen.[60] German immigrant Charles Minnegerode accepted a position as a professor of humanities at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1842, where he taught Latin and Greek. Entering into the social life of the Virginia Tidewater, Minnigerode introduced the German custom of decorating an evergreen tree at Christmas at the home of law professor St. George Tucker, thereby becoming another of many influences that prompted Americans to adopt the practice at about that time.[61] An 1853 article on Christmas customs in Pennsylvania defines them as mostly "German in origin", including the Christmas tree, which is "planted in a flower pot filled with earth, and its branches are covered with presents, chiefly of confectionary, for the younger members of the family." The article distinguishes between customs in different states however, claiming that in New England generally "Christmas is not much celebrated", whereas in Pennsylvania and New York it is.[62]
In the early 19th century, the custom became popular among the nobility and spread to royal courts as far as Russia. Princess Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg introduced the Christmas tree to Vienna in 1816, and the custom spread across Austria in the following years. In France, the first Christmas tree was introduced in 1840 by the duchesse d'Orléans. In Denmark a Danish newspaper claims that the first attested Christmas tree was lit in 1808 by countess Wilhemine of Holsteinborg. It was the aging countess who told the story of the first Danish Christmas tree to the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen in 1865. He had published a fairy-tale called The Fir-Tree in 1844, recounting the fate of a fir-tree being used as a Christmas tree.[30]

People often overlook the fact that they’ll need to store an artificial tree for 10 or 11 months out of the year, Gurino pointed out. And lack of storage space is the main reason, he added, that city and apartment dwellers favor live trees. (He also noted that when live trees get thrown out, they often become free mulch for public parks—in effect, they’re recycled.) Our tree, after being packed up after the photo shoot, took up a corner of our test space for a month before we were able to send it off to another Wirecutter editor for long-term testing. So unless you have lots of storage room in your place, a live tree may make more sense.

Wirecutter senior editor Erica Ogg’s parents, Steve and Debi Ogg, tested the Krinner for a year and they reported that it was “probably the best Christmas tree stand we’ve owned.” Steve was especially impressed with the easy setup, saying, “I’ve never been able to set up a Christmas tree by myself. I’ve always had to have someone else hold it up, while I’m down there [trying to screw in bolts].” With the Krinner, “I could hold it in and use the foot ratchet thing, didn’t need anyone else.”
However, this GE tree has fewer lights than the National Tree—600 versus 750—so it falls just short of our recommended 100 lights per foot of tree. And at 30 percent polyethylene, versus 37 percent on the National Tree pick, the GE tree has a lower proportion of ultra-realistic branch tips—and a higher proportion of fake-looking PVC “needles.” You’ll never notice a difference from across the room, or even halfway across it, but up close you may find the GE slightly more artificial-looking.
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Tree stands are designed for trunks of a certain length and diameter. Typically, you use a tree stand designed for a taller tree on a smaller one. The exception is when the trunk is too narrow. For example, a tree stand designed to take a 12-foot tree may only take a trunk that's down to three inches in diameter, any slimmer and you risk the tree falling over.
For example, the pre-lit 7½-foot-tall, 59-inch-wide version of its Rocky Mountain Pine (same dimensions as our top pick) has 2,764 branch tips (versus our pick’s 1,867) and 1,000 bulbs (versus 750). And it has 54 percent realistic polyethylene branch tips, versus 37 percent. On the other hand, you have to choose white or colored bulbs; the Balsam Hill Rocky Mountain Pine doesn’t come in a color-switching model like our pick. And the extra tips, percent-polyethylene, and bulbs come at a premium: The Rocky Mountain pine has a list price of about $860, and typically retails for roughly $520—historically, $100 or more than our pick. If that’s in your budget, go for it: It’s a terrific tree. To get a similarly specced Balsam Hill tree at a price close to our pick, you’re limited to the company’s Traditional line, which is made entirely of PVC.

When decorating for the holidays, many make it their goal to diffuse Christmas spirit through every room. And while the Christmas tree typically takes center stage, it’s the garlands, wreaths, teardrops, and swags that help to spread holiday cheer throughout the rest of a home. These accents make a home feel lush, inviting, and most of all, festive.

The John Wright company produced the L.L. Bean Heirloom Christmas tree stand so the frame is entirely made of cast iron. While this tree stand felt nigh indestructible, it didn't hold onto our Christmas tree well. On a side note, some consumers may take issue with the cast iron construction. It weighs around 20 pounds. Not an insurmountable weight, but enough that we wouldn't want to lug it in and out of the attic every Christmas.


“This is seriously the most beautiful artificial tree I’ve ever seen. I love all the different textures, colors, and pine-cone accents. The lights are a nice, warm white. The tree is beautiful enough on its own, even without ornaments. Worth the money. It is amazingly full as well. Those who said it was thin did not take the time to fluff it properly, which does take a bit of patience, but is worth the effort. Love it!”
Wirecutter has been researching and testing Christmas tree stands since 2012. In that time, we’ve thoroughly vetted more than 35 stands and done hands-on testing with five. We’ve also read everything we can about Christmas tree stands, from a comparison in the The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) to a Christmas-themed blog called Miss Bee’s Christmas Tree (although not a professional reviewer, Miss Bee is pretty serious about tree stands). We’ve also scoured user reviews on the websites of several major retailers and perused a variety of “best of” lists (most of which, alas, rely mainly on those same websites, with little, if any, testing.)
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