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O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, you have a multifaceted history! And it starts way before Christianity (and thus Christmas) was established. Evergreen trees and their boughs held special significance to ancient European cultures due to their perpetual greenness. Hung inside the home, they were thought to banish evil and served as a reminder of warmer weather. Germany saw the first whole trees brought indoors and decorated for the holidays in the 16th century and in the mid-1800s, when Queen Victoria urged her German husband Prince Albert to create a holiday tree that harkened back to his childhood, the practice went viral. Today’s Christmas trees typically grow for 6 to 10 years on a plantation before harvesting. Genetic engineering and grafting are used to produce trees that stay healthy and visually appealing for a long time. Of course, many now opt for fake trees, a practice that derived from deforestation consciousness in 19th century Germany. The first fake trees were crafted from goose feathers attached to a metal pole, but today’s imitations are made of plastic and suppressed feelings of familial resentment.—Michael Isenbek