IT’S EARLY December and the great Christmas tree rush is underway once again, with more than 100,000 likely to be purchased in Hampshire over the coming weeks.

It’s estimated between 6m and 8m trees are likely to be bought in the UK overall - ranging from tiny ones to perch upon shop counters, to giants one to dominate and illuminate city and town centres.

Various stores across Hampshire will be dealing in the trees, with DIY centres and farm shops packing their forecourts with evergreens to meet everyone’s requirement.

Many merchants will have hundreds of trees on offer, each varying in size and shape.

Some patrons will want a tree for upstairs, some will require one for downstairs, while others will strategically place a tall tree in their entrance hall to reach upward and spread Christmas cheer across both floors.

Some prefer their tree to be bushy, while others would rather plump for a trimmer, well kept appearance. There are also those who want the tree to fill a space like a bay window or a particular corner.

Some may be after a tree with a bluer look than most but, because the blue spruce is native to the North American states of Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico, will be hard pushed to find one here in the UK.

The larger trees will be snapped up by hotels, shopping centres, churches and other establishments.

Some of the trees are imported, while the vast majority are grown in the UK.

Shortly after the native tree has been chopped, a new one is planted. Each takes about eight years to reach the most popular size and there are about 65m of them growing in the UK - about as many trees as there are people.

Just one acre of growing trees gives off enough oxygen to meet the needs of 16 people as well as playing a key role in purifying the atmosphere.

It’s a common belief the first Christian Christmas tree dated from the eighth century when Boniface, who was an English missionary to Germany, decorated a fir tree in homage to Jesus.

By the middle of the 17th century, it was customary throughout Germany to decorate small firs with sweetmeats, fruit and candles.

Candles are believed to have been used as decorations after the German religious reformer Martin Luther, who died in 1546, walked through woods one Christmas and was captivated by the stars in the night sky.

The custom also found its way to England and by the beginning of the 19th century, the Christmas tree had spread to most Northern European countries.

There are some who believe mid-winter festivals date back to before Christ and have traced them back to Egypt in the time of the Pharaohs and ancient Rome.

The Star of Bethlehem or an angel have been traditional tree-toppers for at least 200 years.