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What is Arbor Day?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Arbor Day is a holiday established for people to celebrate trees. Typically, people engage in tree planting projects on Arbor Day, and they may also care for existing trees and participate in tree-related activities, such as pruning workshops or educational programs for children. This holiday originated in the United States, and it has since spread all over the world. Arbor Day dates vary widely internationally, and many municipalities set their own date.

This holiday was founded by Julius Sterling Morton, a resident of Nebraska who was evidently very fond of trees. According to legend, he became frustrated with the lack of trees in his community, and proposed that the community join together for a day to plant trees and commit to caring for them so that future generations could enjoy them. The first Arbor Day occurred in 1872, and the holiday spread rapidly to other communities and nations.

Planting trees is the focal point of Arbor Day, as the whole point is to increase the number of trees in the world. Civic organizations often work in teams, selecting an area and establishing trees there as a group on Arbor Day, and individual citizens can meet up with these teams or go to a central point to get assignments, depending on how a city organizes its Arbor Day festivities.

In addition to planting trees, people also care for trees established on previous Arbor Days with pruning, fertilization, and so forth. Tree care is an important aspect of this holiday because it ensure that the trees will survive into the future. In some regions, gardeners may lead pruning workshops and other educational sessions to teach people about tree care and the benefits of trees, and the date is sometimes tied in with environmentally-themed events, as trees are beneficial to the environment in a number of ways.

In the United States, the holiday falls on the last Friday in April. The National Arbor Day Foundation helps to coordinate and organize activities on this holiday all over the country. Individual cities may also have their own organizers who can work alone or with the Foundation. Trying in Arbor Day with events like birdwatching, garden workshops, and so forth is common, to encourage people to participate, and in some communities, local nurseries or companies may make gifts of trees for Arbor Day, along with supplies, so that people just need to show up to get involved.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By wesley91 — On Mar 18, 2011

@momothree- One might think that Arbor Day would be in the springtime all over the country but that is not the case. Whereas most states do celebrate Arbor Day in April, other states vary greatly.

States such as Florida and Louisiana celebrate Arbor Day in January. Hawaii chose November for their Arbor Day celebration and South Carolina celebrates in December.

By momothree — On Mar 16, 2011

I read in the article that not every state celebrates Arbor Day at the same time. I never knew that. I assumed it was the same all over the country. Is Arbor Day in the springtime for all states?

By GardenTurtle — On Mar 13, 2011

@chrisinbama- No, not all countries celebrate Arbor Day. However, many countries celebrate a very similar day. Yugoslavia celebrates Reforestation Week. Spain celebrates Tree Festival. Mexico celebrates National Tree Day. China calls their day Tree Loving Day.

Even though the names may be different, the concept is the same. We all want to celebrate and plant Arbor Day trees.

By chrisinbama — On Mar 10, 2011

Do all countries celebrate Arbor Day?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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