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This year, some 24 million Americans will buy real Christmas trees, only a slight increase from last year, the National Christmas Tree Association predicts. Over the past decade, sales of real trees have fallen as more people opt for lifelike artificial ones. In 1990, 35.4 million households displayed real trees and 36.3 million put up artificial ones. A decade later, the split was 32 million live and 50.6 million artificial. When did the first artificial Christmas trees surface? In Germany during the 1880s fake trees were created using goose feathers. Fifty years later, an American company, Addis Brush Co., produced Christmas trees with the machinery it used to make toilet brushes. Aluminum trees were popular in the 1960s; today, "prelighted" fake trees have become more common. They hit the market about five years ago.

Sources: AP, National Christmas Tree Association, Tree Classics.

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