IV: Fir

The story of how Christmas trees came indoors.

quartidi, the 14th of Frimaire, Year CCXXXI
Fir needles. Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Good morning. Today is quartidi, the 14th of Frimaire, Year CCXXXI. We celebrate le sapin, an iconic evergreen if you put trees in your house this time of year.

You can always tell a fir from the other evergreens in the pine family because they have the friendliest needles. They are more flexible and waxy, and come to a rounder point, so they don't poke as much. Fir needles also tend to be flat, and, most distinctively, attach to the twig with a shape that looks like a leech suctioned to the wood.

Unless you live in an area that's far too warm or low-lying to obtain fir, chances are, your Christmas wreaths and trees are made of one type of fir or another. Balsam, Noble, and even younger Douglas firs are the best-smelling trees, and less likely to shed needles on your floor through the holiday season. We always had Concolor firs in my house growing up in Colorado.

But why do we drag these lovelies indoors for the season? It's certainly not a Biblical tradition. Where and how did the Christmas tree thing start?