As National Arbor Day approaches--it’s Friday, April 29th--, we thought we’d give a brief run-down of how the holiday came about and the ways you can celebrate it this year.
The very first celebration of trees--or what we now term Arbor Day--was held in a small Spanish Village in 1805. Encouraged by a local priest protesting against the destruction of the Napoleonic Wars, the community planted a popular tree in the town square. Over the next several days, dozens of other trees were planted and a movement for the defense of trees began.
About 70 years later, the American decision to formalize the celebration of trees as a national holiday was prompted by the journalist and tree lover, Julius Sterling Morton (pictured right). While serving as a member of Nebraska’s State Board of Agriculture (and before working as President Grover’s Secretary of Agriculture), Morton proposed that a day should be dedicated to tree planting and increasing the awareness of the importance of trees. Hence, the first Arbor Day was celebrated as a state holiday in Nebraska on April 10, 1872, where an estimated one million trees were planted on that one day! In 1885, Arbor Day was named a legal holiday in Nebraska and April 22, Morton’s birthday, was chosen as the date for its permanent observance.
While National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April (beginning in 1970), many US states observe it on different dates depending on their tree planting season. Click here to learn when each state celebrates Arbor day. Globally, over 30 countries now celebrate Arbor Day, or a form of tree appreciation day. Click here to learn when and how Arbor Day is celebrated around the world.
How can you celebrate Arbor Day this year? One way is to celebrate early by joining us this Saturday, April 9th from 8:30-11:30am at ASU’s Tempe campus for our second annual Tour de Trees where you can visit 11 magnificent trees and learn more about tree care. You can also officially celebrate Arizona Arbor Day by coming to the AZ State Capitol Museum on Tuesday, April 26th from 10-12:00pm for an awards and planting ceremony.
Or, you can simply plant a tree.
Contact a local nursery or register for a workshop here where you can receive up to two free trees. Planting a tree is easier than most people think, and you’ll be able to celebrate your tree’s “birthday” each Arbor Day.
And remember--on April 29th take a minute to enjoy the shade of a tree and appreciate why trees matter.
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