Michigan Capitol Christmas Tree

I live just a few blocks from the State Capitol so each year I see the State Christmas Tree go up in front of the Capitol building

The state’s tannenbaum is a 75-foot Concolor Fir tree from Jackson. It is the largest state Christmas tree in Michigan history, according to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget.
Volunteers from the Michigan Association of Timbermen and the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association cut the tree down and transported it to Lansing on Nov. 2.
The Hi-Ball Company of Lansing donated a crane and crews to set the tree on the front lawn of the Capitol the following day.
Officials accepted nominations for Michigan state Christmas Tree from around the state through the end of July, then began evaluating nominees. The Jackson tree had first been nominated in 2009.

Nominations are requested by July 1 and the tree must meet the criteria listed below:

  • must be a spruce or a fir
  • must be at least 65 feet tall
  • have a maximum crown diameter of 30 feet
  • have a maximum trunk diameter of 30 inches.
  • must be made available at no charge.

It becomes the ninth tree from the Lower Peninsula to be selected, according to the Department of Management and Budget. The other 18 state Christmas trees have been from the Upper Peninsula.

The ceremonial lighting of the tree was held about 7:20 p.m. Friday as part of Lansing’s 28th annual Silver Bells in the City celebration. The Electric Light Parade precedes the tree lighting, and a fireworks display  follows.  Here is the 2012 tree.
I must say that I really don’t care for the lights this year, but they try to make it different each year.

Great Moments in Christmas Tree History

  • The use of evergreen trees to celebrate the winter season occurred before the birth of Christ.
  • The first decorated Christmas tree was in Riga, Latvia in 1510.
  • The first printed reference to Christmas trees appeared in Germany in 1531.
  • Besides evergreens, other types of trees such as cherry and hawthorns were used as Christmas trees in the past.
  • Using small candles to light a Christmas tree dates back to the middle of the 17th century.
  • Thomas Edison’s assistant, Edward Johnson, came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees in 1882. Christmas tree lights were first mass-produced in 1890.
  • In 1856 Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States, was the first President to place a Christmas tree in the White House.
  • President Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn in 1923.

The United States of Trees

  • In the United States, there are more than 12,000 Christmas tree growers.
  • There are approximately 350 million Christmas trees growing on U.S. farms.
  • Approximately 100,000 people are employed full or part-time in the Christmas tree industry.
  • 30.8 million live Christmas trees were purchased in the United States in 2011, with a real market value of $1.07 billion.
  • The mean average purchase price of a live tree in 2011 was $34.87.
  • Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Washington, New York, and Virginia were the top Christmas tree producing states in 2009. Oregon was the leading producer of Christmas trees with 7.34 million trees in 2008.
  • 170,000 acres of land in the United States were in Christmas tree production in 2009. Oregon led the nation with 40,000 acres, and Illinois 2,000 acres in production.
  • Christmas trees are grown and harvested in all 50 states.
  • Michigan ranks third (1.6 million trees in 2007) among all states in the production of real Christmas trees, but grows a larger variety of Christmas trees than any other state.

Pine Valley Christmas Trees

It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.

Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.

The influential Oliver Cromwell preached against “the heathen traditions” of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated “that sacred event.” In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a law making any observance of December 25 (other than a church service) a penal offense; people were fined for hanging decorations. That stern solemnity continued until the 19th century, when the influx of German and Irish immigrants undermined the Puritan legacy.

In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society. The Christmas tree had arrived.

Cleveland family Christmas tree around 1896, White House

White house Christmas Tree 1947


Well Now I guess I should get my tree set up

Happy Tree Decorating


23 thoughts on “Michigan Capitol Christmas Tree

  1. Sara says:

    Very interesting! I agree, it looks like all they had were the red and green lights and no imagination!

  2. antarabesque says:

    This year’s tree reminds me of a green wrapped present with a red ribbon. I prefer it to the blue one. Blue has never spoken Christmas to me.

  3. Annette says:

    My grandfather had a blue spruce tree from his backyard selected as a national tree sometime in the late 40’s or early 50’s. I don’t remember much more than that as I was very young. I do have a picture of it in their yard but not in DC. Such a shame to lose that family history. But I am glad that you posted this as it brought back the memory and I will research it to see if I can preserve that tidbit of family history.

  4. Ann Hancock says:

    My mother always used to say that blue lights as decorations reminded her of funeral homes. That was enough to turn me away from EVER using blue lights.

    I agree, the LED lights have a very blue cast; it seems very harsh. Will never use those as Christmas tree lights for that reason even though I know they are way more energy efficient. Time for me to go out and stockpile the old fashioned mini lights before the government bans them!

    Thanks for a very interesting post

  5. belinda says:

    Interesting post Tim! I wish they had made the red lights more slanted to look more like a spiral wrap or else made them straight around. Looks a little cock-eyed and crooked to me! HA!

  6. Bobbie Davis says:

    Thanks for the info Tim! Christmas trees and carols are sure signs of the season!

  7. Regan Martin says:

    What a wonderful post! I love all Christmas trees, no matter how they are decorated…..country, modern, all one color….whatever! What I don’t like are the shaped trees, that look like a perfect cone! Yuk! I like naturally grown, with lots of big open spaces for the ‘stuff’! Our tree every year is victorian, with as many white lights, ornaments, and bead strings that I can fit on it. My motto…..”If you can see green, there’s not enough on it!” LOL

  8. audrey says:

    Interesting post Tim! We’ve mostly always lived in a small town so we don’t have a connection with the super big Christmas trees of the State Capitals.

    • timquilts says:

      I grew up in the east side of Detroit suburbs, there was a tree that they decorated outside of city hall…..but nothing nearly as big as the capitol city tree…..it is impressive in its size

  9. Sue says:

    What a great post, Tim! I loved the history tidbits. History is a favorite subject of mine. The photo of the 1947 White House tree is a sweet one.

    I am with you on the decorations on that tree :/

  10. […] Michigan State Capital Christmas Tree  and a history of Christmas trees that you can read here:  (https://timquilts.com/2012/11/27/michigan-capitol-christmas-tree/ […]

  11. Gunnar says:

    More Christmas tree trivia: We live in New England. The first Christmas tree here was, according to several sources, put up in the 1840’s by German immigrants at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Boston. Sadly, this beautiful church (you can see photos online) was closed a few years ago and will likely be turned into condos.

    Before electric tree lights became popular, there was another “transition” from candles: gas lights! Well to do people (living in cities that had gas lighting available) purchased artificial Christmas trees that had an interior system of thin pipes and gas jets running through the branches. A rubber hose connected the tree to a gas fixture on the wall! When electric tree lights were adopted, many people continued to put real candles on their trees as “back up, just in case” , as electricity at that time wasn’t dependable.

    We use real candles on our tree every year, a custom passed on to us by our Dutch and Norwegian parents. They are carefully placed and made secure, and lit only for a few minutes as the family gathers round the tree to sing carols, etc. We’ve never had a fire safety issue. The effect of real candles on a tree (they can be used on artificial trees too) is completely different than that of electric lights. The latter tend to nestle in the branches, often illuminating ornaments from behind. Candles, being at the outwards ends of the branches, illuminate the ornaments nicely and give the tree a shimmering glow that electric lights just can’t replicate.

  12. […] Here is a post I did in 2012 all about Christmas trees and the state capital tree.  https://timquilts.com/2012/11/27/michigan-capitol-christmas-tree/ […]


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