We hear about the dangers of Christmas trees -- especially real ones -- bursting into flames every year at Yuletide. Yet neither real nor artificial Christmas trees are that likely to catch on fire. First, real trees simply don't spontaneously combust, even if you forget to water them. And secondly, actual cases of any Christmas trees causing residential fires are extremely rare. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2005 and 2009, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 240 home fires per year that began with Christmas trees [source: National Fire Protection Association]. With tens of millions of trees both fake and real sold every year, 240 fires is a pretty small percentage. Of course, this doesn't mean you should take unnecessary risks. If you have a real tree, water it regularly, and remember to turn off the lights when you're away. And remember that overloaded outlets and faulty wires are the biggest potential culprits when it comes to holiday fires [source: National Christmas Tree Association].
Author's Note: 10 Myths About Christmas
I'm so relieved Christmas trees aren't a major fire hazard, because I'd never want to give up my tree. And thank goodness my frequent use of the term "Xmas" isn't offensive. Now I'm going to go hang my pickle ornament on the tree, read whoever's "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and call it a day.
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- National Christmas Tree Association. "Holiday Safety Facts." (Nov. 27, 2012) http://www.christmastree.org/dnn/Education/HolidaySafety.aspx
- National Fire Protection Association. "Home Fires Involving Christmas Trees or Holiday Lights Fact Sheet." (Nov. 30, 2012) http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files//ChristmasTreeFactSheet.pdf
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- Why Christmas. "St. Nicholas, Santa Claus & Father Christmas." (Nov. 27, 2012) http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/fatherchristmas.shtml
Parson Brown? Yuletide? Do you have a clue what the lyrics of Christmas carols are talking about? Find out at HowStuffWorks.