The Surprising History of Arbor Day

Arbor Day is a holiday that is celebrated around the world, regardless of race and culture. This is, in part, due to the fact that maintaining trees on the planet is key to the survival of all living creatures. Cultures around the world live in tree-covered environments and Arbor Day is a great opportunity to celebrate these important ecosystems.

Ancient Origins

The first documented case of a civilization holding a festival for planting trees happened in 1594. It was a small Spanish village called Mondoñedo that held the world’s first arbor plantation festival. In fact, the area is still flush with lime and horse chestnut trees because the tradition is still going.

Arbor Day Comes to America

It was J. Sterling Morton and his wife who began the tradition in America. Morton was a local journalist who dabbled in politics later in life.

Once Morton was in a position of power, he proposed that Arbor Day became an actual holiday, and the first Arbor Day was set to be on April 10, 1872. It is believed that over one million trees were planted in Nebraska alone on the very first Arbor Day.

Morton’s goal was to encourage tree planting, hoping to one day fill the empty plains with trees. Morton began the tradition in 1854, and it still continues to this day. It isn’t only a tradition in the Midwest anymore. Citizens all over the United States plant trees every Arbor Day. In fact, Arbor Day has even went beyond the borders of America: countries all over the world now observe Arbor Day.


Current Arbor Day Traditions Around the World

Arbor Day is celebrated by many different countries all over the world. However, Arbor Day isn’t celebrated at the same time in every country.

Australia celebrates the holiday in June. Australia’s love for trees is apparent. They don’t only celebrate trees for one day. National Tree Day is in late July. They also have an entire Arbor Week! Brazil celebrates Arbor Day on September 21st. They originally celebrated it in June, like many other countries; however, they switched the date to September because that is when their Spring planting season starts. China’s Arbor Day coincides with the day that Dr. Sun Yat-sen passed away. Germany, Guam, Holland, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Jordan, and dozens of other countries also celebrate trees in some way or another.


Why Trees Matter

Everyone knows that all breathing creatures require trees to make oxygen. Trees also provide animals with shelter; many animals rely on trees to avoid predators, the weather, and to live. Trees play an important role in local business too. Businesses that participate in Arbor Day celebrations are showing that they care about the community. It is a great way to engage and connect with the community. Cities are likely already holding Arbor Day events, so businesses can only benefit from engaging in these activities, perhaps even donating the money for the event.


Trees play an important role in local business, providing jobs to the forestry service, logging and tree removal, and construction. Increasingly, businesses in this space are committing to sustainable business practices such as planting new trees to offset the trees used in their operations.

How to Take Care of Trees

An important part of Arbor day isn’t just adding new trees, but also taking care of the trees we already have. Many people feel a bit overwhelmed when it comes to pruning or maintaining their own trees, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Pruning trees helps make trees look more maintained and welcoming, but it also has great benefits for the tree. Remove excess branches or deadwood or even strategically remove branches to reduce windsail effect. Always check your tree for diseases or other problems, since it could pose a danger to you or your home. If you are seriously concerned for you trees, and feel like you can’t do it yourself, contacting an arborist or other tree services can ensure the trees you own are taken proper care of.


Arbor Day traditions won’t be ending anytime soon. In fact, count on Arbor Day transcending cultures and time. It is one of the most vital aspects of cultures all over the world because almost everyone loves trees and understand their importance.

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