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About Feather Trees

As a symbol of renewal, the evergreen can be traced back to pagan times, but the Christmas tree as we know it didn't come into being until the seventeenth century. The Germans were probably the first to decorate trees, using candles, cookies, and religious ornaments. They brought the custom with them when they emigrated to America. The first Christmas tree in the White House was put up by Franklin Pierce in the 1850s, but Christmas trees weren't widely adopted by the American public until the late 1800s.

With the popularity of Christmas trees came concerns about the conservation of forests. This spurred the development of artificial trees, first made from goose feathers. Feather trees, prevalent from the 1890s to the late 1940s, were designed to resemble the white pines found in northern Germany. Today, there are only a few companies left that make high-quality feather trees, and the Catalog for Living is happy to support this traditional folk art.

Comments (4)

  • hometraditions 20 Jul, 2010

    While American feather trees are expensive, they are well made and will last a lifetime. You do have the option of making your feather tree. You can see feather tree kits at

  • UUjerri1 2 Dec, 2008

    Are there other sources of information about feather trees? I'll Google Betty Bell and see what comes up. Thank you.

  • UUjerri1 2 Dec, 2008

    I've a feeling since Martha's got one in her Macy's line that this type of tree will again become popular. I want a 4' one for my kitchen bay window, but they are all very expensive. Anyone out there know how to make these?

  • GotMilk 25 Nov, 2007

    Betty Bell (Mrs. Folsom Bell) of Dallas, TX is the ultimate feather tree collector and selller. She has open house one day each Christmas to 'view' her tree. This coming Dec. 19th, she will give a program on feather trees and especially on the appropriate ornaments, to the members of the Dallas Antigues and Fine Arts Society, perhaps the oldest such organization in the city.