In case you were wondering about the meaning and origin of Arbor Day, I am taking some time today to elucidate you. Below is the actual definition:
Arbor Day (or Arbour; from the Latin arbor, meaning tree) is a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. Today, many countries observe such a holiday. Though usually observed in the spring, the date varies, depending on climate and suitable planting season.
In the United States, Arbor Day is traditionally the last Friday in April but every state hosts different celebrations due to its specific climate and the best time to locally plant trees. For example, in Eden Prairie Minnesota, Arbor Day Festivities will take place on May 7.
Arbor Day began in 1872 because of the vision of a gentleman from Nebraska City named J. Sterling Morton. So good was J. Sterling that on April 10, 1872 an estimated one million trees were planted in Nebraska.
In addition, I thought you might be interested in some Minnesota statistics regarding the Tree City USA program which began in 1976. Tree City USA is a movement to help communities manage and expand their public trees. More than 3,400 communities have made the commitment to becoming a Tree City USA. They achieve the Tree City USA status by meeting four core standards of sound urban forestry management: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.
- In Minnesota there are 94 Tree City USA communities which represents 52.30% of the state!
- The Longest running Tree City USA community is Fergus Falls going back 37 years! You rock Fergus Falls!
- The smallest community to have the wonderful distinction of being a part of Tree City USA is Sunfish Lake, population 526. You go, Sunfish Lake!
If that isn’t enough to convince you to celebrate Arbor Day in your community, please take inspiration from the fact that this is a WORLD event. Celebrations and the planting of trees to help our planet will take place in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cambodia, Canada, Costa Rica (didn’t even know they needed more trees), Egypt (probably needs lots of trees), Germany, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Lesotho (South Africa – check it out, it needs trees too), Luxembourg, Republic of Congo, Republic of Macedonia, Malawi, Mexico, Mongolia, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand (wow, even the lush Lord of the Rings territory needs more trees), Niger, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom, Venezuela and probably hundreds more.
So before you go out and grab some seedlings and start planting, give yourself a pat on the back and remember the words of the rock star J. Sterling Morton,
“Each generation takes the earth as trustees.”