How Long Ago Did Christmas Trees Become a ‘Thing’ in Sioux Falls?
When you check on the history of Christmas trees the symbolic use of evergreens goes back to ancient Egypt, Rome, and Germany.
The Germans are credited with the tradition of putting lit candles in Christmas trees. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time.
The Lewis and Clark expedition mentioned the "Soues River" in an 1804 log entry and described the present-day Sioux Falls.
By the 1800s the Christmas conifers were showing up as a holiday tradition in America. They were used as decorations at gatherings in the more cosmopolitan coastal towns like New York City.
Since around 1850 Christmas trees have been commercially sold in the United States. Keep in mind South Dakota didn't become a state until November of 1889.
The use of pine boughs for wintertime decorating dates back before Christianity when people from many countries would hang evergreen branches over doors and windows to ward away witches, evil spirits, and the like.
Christmas trees started to show up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in the 1870s and '80s.
The South Dakota State Historical Society says that the tradition of the Christmas Tree was catching on at community gatherings, stores, and churches around the state.
In the 1870's it is reported that there were “Sunday School Trees” at churches. Events would take place around Christmas Eve and Christmas Day where there would have programs centered around the pines that included singing, scripture reading, and presents on the trees.
The Dakota Pantagraph reported that in 1878 Santa Claus was in Sioux Falls handing out presents.
In 1892 the Argus-Leader published a holiday time editorial urging residents of Sioux Falls to aid the “deserving poor” whose family had found hard times due to illness or death of the household breadwinner.
During WWI (1914-1918) students at Whittier School decided to not put up classroom Christmas trees and instead donated the money to soldiers in Sioux Falls that were stationed at Camp Cody, Texas.
By the 1900's you could annually fine around 5,000 Christmas Trees for sale for home use in Sioux Falls.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association today there are nearly 30 million real Christmas Trees sold every year.