Nothing is more central to Christmas decorations than the Christmas tree itself. We even have an annual National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Washington with the President of the Untied States flipping the switch each year.

President John Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn in 1923, by the way, and we’ve done it as a nation ever since. How the tree is decorated has changed over time though; at the first one the 48-foot-tall fir had 2,500 red, white and - wait for it - GREEN bulbs.

Here are a few more - somewhat obscure - facts about the tree as a symbol of Christmas that you may not have run across before:

• Evergreen trees have been used to celebrate winter since before the birth of Christ

• Christmas trees were mentioned in print in Germany in 1531

• Edward Johnson, Thomas Edison’s assistant had the bright idea of creating electric Christmas tree lights in 1882

• In 1856 Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States, was the first President to place a Christmas tree in the White House

▪ There are approximately 25-30 million Christmas Trees sold in the U.S. every year

▪ There are close to 350 million Christmas Trees currently growing on Christmas Tree farms in the U.S. alone, all planted by farmers.

▪ North American Christmas Trees are grown in all 50 states and Canada

▪ 80 percent of artificial trees worldwide are manufactured in China

▪ Real Trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins such as lead

▪ There are more than 4,000 local Christmas Tree recycling programs throughout the United States

▪ For every Christmas Tree harvested, 1 to 3 seedlings are planted the following spring

▪ There are about 350,000 acres in production for growing Christmas Trees in the U.S.; much of it preserving green space

▪ There are close to 15,000 farms growing Christmas Trees in the U.S., and over 100,000 people are employed full or part-time in the industry

▪ It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of typical height (6-7 feet) or as little as 4 years, but the average growing time is 7 years

▪ The top Christmas Tree producing states are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington

▪ The most common Christmas Tree species are: balsam fir, Douglas-fir, Fraser fir, noble fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine and white pine

Sources: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, National Christmas Tree Association [NCTA], TheNational Tree.org., US Commerce Dept.