Part of the USA Today Network

Cotton wrapped sassafras Christmas Trees

Who had grandparents that wrapped a sassafras tree with cotton to create a snow-like covered Christmas Tree? My grandparents, Emanuel and Cora Barshinger, decorated their living room with such a tree for as long as I can remember. They utilized small sassafras trees; that grew wild in one of the fence-rows bordering their farm along South Queen Street in York Township.

After my parents built a home on a corner of that farm, my Mom took up the tradition of the cotton wrapped sassafras Christmas Tree, which was placed in the living room; although the downstairs recreation room also contained a traditional spruce Christmas Tree.

I’ve placed Pinterest photos of a small sassafras tree, blooming in the springtime, next to a sassafras that has been transformed into a cotton wrapped Christmas Tree. Click on this LINK for a Full View of the illustration in this post if details are cut off in the cropping of illustration.

When out family moved to acreage along Witmer Road in Springettsbury Township, we noticed small sassafras trees growing wild in the fence-rows. For the first few years at that home, a cotton wrapped sassafras Christmas Tree graced the basement recreation room, however a traditional spruce Christmas Tree was also placed in the living room.

Why use sassafras trees? Frugally; trees pulled from fence-rows were free. Fragrance; sassafras trees have a citrus-like scent. Randomness and bunching of the sassafras branches are traits that many find appealing.

After the sassafras tree is cut down, it was placed in a very large flower-pot, with rocks utilized to anchor it in place. Mom insisted that the cotton wrapping start at the bottom and work its way to the top. Why; because that was the way her Mom always wrapped the tree. In our family, the traditions of decorating those trees were very much entrenched.

Links to past Christmas posts:

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts