According to The China Daily, around 90 per cent of the world’s artificial Christmas trees are made in their booming country. Considering that less than one per cent of the Chinese are Christians, this may at first seem a little odd!
The bandwagon started rolling in the late 1970s when China’s economy was given greater freedom to export and therefore benefit from its comparatively cheap and plentiful supply of labour. Provinces such as Guangdong and Zhejiang became wealthy on the back of manufacturing in general – and Christmas trees in particular.
Zhejiang has been dubbed ‘The Christmas ornament capital of the world’ and, in 2011, supplied a 15-metre Christmas tree to stand majestically in Bethlehem’s Manger Square!
As Christians are very much a minority in China, it’s quite probable that the people working in Christmas tree factories won’t fully understand what they’re for. This is certainly true of Chinese people living in rural areas, although anyone visiting China’s big cities at Christmas time will see increasing evidence of seasonal celebrations in shopping malls and department stores.
On The Avenue of Eternal Peace in Beijing, for example, signs of Christmas will be everywhere – and growing numbers of Chinese urbanites have taken to celebrating by decorating their houses with Christmas trees, cooking special food and generally making it a memorable social occasion!
From the early days…
The fascinating history of artificial Christmas trees began in 19th century Germany. These were made from dyed goose feathers attached to ‘branches’ made of wire. 20th century America saw a major boost to its own domestic demand for artificial trees when the Addis Brush Company created an interesting fake tree from the same machinery it used to make brushes!
By today’s standards, these early trees were crude in their construction, and not entirely convincing in their appearance. Steady improvements in plastics technology have given us the trees we have today – PVC (poly vinyl chloride) trees and the more realistic ‘luxury’ versions made from poly ethylene (PE).
Anyone who feels that Chinese imports will be in some way sub-standard need only look at the high quality artificial Christmas trees you can buy today. Most are so realistic, it’s almost impossible to tell them apart from the real thing.
Poly ethylene (PE) trees are particularly impressive. Using the latest plastic-moulding technologies, manufacturers can create incredibly realistic trees with three-dimensional needles that have all the elegance of a real tree without the drawbacks.
A modern-day ‘fake’ tree looks every inch the superstar of any family Christmas, with wonderful foliage that keeps its appearance year after year. Choose your own size and style and forget about watering, fallen needles and having to turn out every year to fight with frenzied Christmas shoppers.
Modern manufacturing techniques also fare well in the eco-friendly stakes, and the long-term cost for a superb artificial Christmas tree is surprisingly low – despite having come all the way from China!