National Arbor Day

It is National Arbor Day!

National Arbor Day is celebrated in many around the world on the last Friday of April, which this year lies on April 28, 2023. This is a holiday to help celebrate the planting and preservation of trees.

The History of Arbor Day

Arbor literally translates to “tree” from the Latin origin which has been dated back to the 1870s in Nebraska City, according to History. A couple named Julius Sterling and Caroline Morton purchased 160 acres to plant a wide variety of trees and plants. By January 7, 1872, Morton proposed a day to encourage the people of Nebraska to plant trees in their community. It was originally going to be called Sylvan Day from the state agricultural board, but Morton convinced the day should be called “Arbor Day,” reflecting the appreciation of all trees. The first Arbor Day was held on April 10, 1872 with a goal of planting approximately 1 million trees, led by Morton. In 1885, Arbor Day became an official state holiday in Nebraska which was around the time when the weather was ideal for planting trees as well as it being in recognition of Morton’s birthday.

Tree planting became a tradition among schools across the country in 1882, with school children learning about the significance of trees and receiving a tree to plant in their yard. In 1883, an agriculturalist named Birdsey Northrop introduced the concept of Arbor Day to Japan, and its influence spread throughout other countries as well, including Canada, Australia, and Europe. Within a couple of decades, Arbor Day was celebrated in all states of the U.S., except for Delaware. 

Almost 100 years later, Arbor Day became recognized as a national holiday in 1970, which was along the same time as passing other environmentally-friendly legislation and actions taken by President Richard Nixon. 

Although Julius Morton passed away in 1902, long before Arbor Day was a national holiday, he is still honored with a statue, dedicated with the title “Father of Arbor Day” in the National Hall of Fame. He also dedicated several years of his life as the United States Secretary of Agriculture from 1893 to 1897.

How Can You Celebrate Arbor Day?

To this day, Arbor Day can be celebrated by planting trees and caring for them to protect our planet’s natural resources. 

Did you know one mature tree can absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere in just one year? In addition, properly placed trees around buildings and right outside your home can reduce your heating and cooling needs by up to 25%.

So plan to plant a tree and other native plants at your home or community. You can also gift a tree or plant a tree for your family, friend, or neighbor in honor of the day.

In Morton’s words, “Other holidays repose upon the past; Arbor Day proposes for the future.”