Christmas and Christmas trees in the United States
Usually a decorated evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine or fir, the Christmas tree is traditionally associated with the widely celebrated holiday of Christmas. The tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts or dates and was illuminated by candles. Today, a wide variety of traditional ornaments such as garland, tinsel, candy canes and Christmas lights are used. The custom originated in early modern Germany around the sixteenth century and was introduced in North America in the eighteenth century by Brunswick soldiers. The most commonly used species are fir trees, which do not shed their needles when they dry out and also retain good foliage color and scent.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, there are close to 350 million Christmas trees currently growing on Christmas tree farms in the United States alone and about 25 to 30 million real Christmas trees sold every year. In 2016, Christmas tree sales (real and fake) in the United States amounted to about 46 million and the industry employs over 100,000 people.
The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world. Christmas is a peak selling season for retailers; sales increase dramatically as people purchase gifts, decorations and supplies to celebrate. In the United States, the Christmas shopping season usually starts as early as October.