Outdoor and Artificial
Christmas Trees

North America gave the traditional Christmas tree a new look with the invention of strings of electric lights. As early as 1912, the first illuminated trees appeared in Bostonís public areas. Outdoor Christmas trees quickly became commonplace in North America. After the First World War, this novelty reached Europe and became widespread towards the middle of the XXth century.

Towards the end of the XIXth century, another variation of the traditional Christmas tree also appeared on the market: the artificial tree. The earliest came from Germany and were made of metal wire and goose or turkey feathers died green to imitate pine needles.
Between 1900 and 1950, huge trees of ostrich or swan feathers intended for hotels, stores and the houses of the wealthy were manufactured.

In Canada, the fashion of the illuminated outdoor tree is very widespread. The winter climate with its combination of dark nights and white snow contrasts with the cheerfulness of the multicoloured decorations. In the suburbs, there are almost as many Christmas trees outside as there are inside.
Throughout Alberta there are only a few hours of sun light when the year arrives at the winter solstices. Clear sky and a cover of fresh snow provide the backdrop for the festive use of decorative lights. The ancient northern European use of light and fire in the month of Yule and the medieval Christian play on these images echo in the most convivial of Alberta's civil feasts.

In one of Edmonton's wealthier districts the neighbours out-do each other decorating their homes on a street that has come to be called "Candy-cane Lane." On Christmas Day and Boxing Day the destitute and homeless of Edmonton are served a festive meal. Some churches also reach out to the public and invite them in for a Christmas spectacle.