Christmas Tree Tradition Continues in New Jersey

By Lauren Wanko

“We decided to cut our own Christmas Tree which we haven’t done in at least 30 years. We said, ‘let’s give it a try and see what it’s like.’ Well, it’s been interesting,” said Susan Weinstein.

Wall Township resident Steven Weinstein works to get their newly picked tree from Anne Ellen Christmas Tree Farm in Manalapan to their living room. He cuts, and cuts and cuts some more — his wife Susan standing by for moral support.

The couple’s one of many in the state that are eager to cut their own tree for the holidays. The National Christmas Tree Association says the evergreens have become a custom that we’ve enjoyed in this country for decades.

“Really Early in the 1900s, and throughout the 1900s, it became sort of an entrenched tradition for families to bring in an evergreen, a conifer tree, and decorate it for Christmas, specifically. That’s how it sort of became a Christmas tradition in this country,” said Rick Dungey, Executive Director for the National Christmas Tree Association.

“An interesting fact is that the Christmas tree industry got it’s start in New Jersey,” said Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Al Murray. “The first Christmas tree farm ever in the United States was from New Jersey, right outside of Trenton, actually, so we have a long history with Christmas trees.”

By the mid-20th century more and more farmers began growing Christmas trees as a sustainable crop, says the Association. The U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that New Jersey harvested 68,471 Christmas trees in 2012. Anne Ellen Christmas Tree Farm is covered with just that.

“We have over 100 acres here. We have about 40,000 trees,” said Office manager Sandy Ferreira.

There are five different varieties here: everything from blue spruce to Douglas fir. They’re a couple of the most popular. Every year, once the trees are cut down, staffers replant in the fields.

“It takes anywhere from 7 to 10 years to get a fully grown tree,” said Ferreira.

One of the most famous trees is the White House Christmas Tree. In 1966 the National Christmas Tree Association began having the grand champion grower present a tree to the First Lady. This year’s tree came from Pennsylvania.

“The staff and the White House came out to their farm in September and picked the tree for the blue room. This year it was a Frasier fir that they had grown on their farm. It was presented to First Lady Michelle Obama on the day after Thanksgiving,” Dungey said.

Although the Weinstein’s are slightly behind the White House schedule.

“This will be a memorable tree,” Susan said.

They’re taking home their piece of Christmas

Check out NJTV News’ list of places in New Jersey where you can cut down your own Christmas tree.