Christmas cheer

Is it just me who finds this story amusing? 10,000 Asda Christmas trees are being recalled due to a potentially lethal electrical problem. The spokesman said:

I think the important thing is just to illustrate the three products that this has affected - no other products or Christmas trees or fairy lights are affected in any shape or form.

Yes, I agree, Mr. Asda, that is indeed the important thing here. The important thing is certainly not, for example, that in 25 years, children will have forgotten that Christmas trees actually used to be made of pine needles and bark, and required soil. Or that, as a symbol, the Christmas tree has its origin in pagan cultures that pre-date Christianity by quite some time. Then again, that last one is more directed at Christmas itself - an odd mish-mash of a holiday that pretends to be Christian but was heavily influenced by earlier festivals.

Incidentally, indulging in a small amount of research has indicated to me that there are several reasons for actually wanting a fake, sorry, artificial, Christmas tree:

  • They are necessary in some rented homes due to the potential fire danger from a dried-out real tree, leading to some landlords banning them
  • They may be necessary for people who have conifer allergy

I suppose, grudgingly, I should allow these special cases, but that kind of thing does set me off on the usual “modern world” grumble session.

I enjoyed reading about the first “designer” Christmas trees that were sold in the 1950s and 60s. They were made with aluminium-coated paper attached to metal rods; it doesn’t take a leap of imagination to realise that if you put a light too close to the paper it was rather flammable. Fortunately for us all, Christmas technology has moved on a lot since then.

Before anybody says that my hankering for the old days of real Christmas trees is not environmentally friendly, I would like to point out that artificial trees are often made out of PVC, a toxic material that is often combined with lead. They are non-recyclable. Real trees, on the other hand, are completely recyclable, reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during growth, and the crops are generally replanted after cutting.


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