Arbor Day in America is usually celebrated on the last Friday of April, although states can choose their own commemoration dates, to ensure that the environment is the best for trees to prosper. This holiday is dedicated to trees and plants, with the intent of promoting tree planting and educating about tree conservation.
It is a public holiday in Nebraska, where schools and businesses are closed.
Why are trees important?
Trees are important for the survival of the planet and are commonly known as the Earth’s lungs. They are the shelter for many animals, mainly birds, and the source of materials that are essential for human living, such as paper, cork, and sap. This holiday aims to honor the importance of trees and the role they play in our lives.
Arbor comes from the Latin word for “tree”.
The idea for Arbor Day originated in the 1870s in Nebraska. Julius Sterling Morton was a journalist who moved to the state in 1854, and, together with his wife, bought 160 acres of land for their property, where they planted several trees and shrubbery in what was previously a mostly bare plain.
As the new editor for the Nebraska City News, Morton saw the perfect opportunity to spread awareness about trees and their importance for the ecosystem, a message that made Nebraskans realize that their state was lacking in green spaces.
After becoming a part of the Nebraska Board of Agriculture, Morton suggested in 1872 that a day dedicated to the plating of trees was created. After the acceptance from the whole board, Arbor Day was born. The first Arbor Day successfully took place on April 10, 1872, with several dedicated Nebraskans participating and planting around 1 million trees, encouraged by the promise of prizes for those who planted trees the right way.
Arbor Day became an official state holiday in Nebraska in 1885 and was to be observed on April 22, in honor of Morton’s birthday. It wasn’t until 1970 that the day was recognized on a national scale by President Richard Nixon.
How to celebrate
The Arbor Day Foundation is largely responsible for organizing Arbor Day events and activities, and they suggest that some of the ways people can participate on this holiday are to help in cleaning up a public park, care for the natural environment, not only plants, but also animals, and, of course, plant and care for trees.
Many events on the day are for people to learn about trees and encourage them to participate in nature preservation. Activities include concerts, exhibitions, talks, and happen around the country in schools, communities, and organizations.