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The History of Arbor Day | 2018

By Grace Nakimura on April 23, 2018

heart cut out from a tree bush
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The first Arbor Day ever celebrated in the world was organized in the Spanish village of Mondoñedo in 1594 by the city Mayor. It is the first recorded arbor plantation festival on record, but not the holiday as we know it today in the United States.


The first American version originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska by J. Sterling Morton. Morton and his wife were lovers of nature. His idea for the event stemmed from the Nebraskan pioneers not having access to the typical trees they had before reaching the tree-less plains of Nebraska. Trees were badly needed by the pioneers and thus the event was a hit. An estimated one million trees were planted on April 10, 1872 and eventually the holiday began to catch on internationally.

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tree trunk and branches with leaves

Birdsey Northrop from Connecticut is responsible for globalizing the concept when he traveled to Japan in 1883 and delivered his Arbor Day and Village Improvement message. The American Foresty Association made Northrop the Chairman of the Committee to campaign for Arbor Day nationwide the same year. With this new role he brought his enthusiasm to Europe, Australia and Canada.


Today the event is celebrated throughout the world and goes by different names. In Israel, it is called the New Year’s Day of the Trees. Korea has a Tree-Loving Week, Iceland has a Student’s Afforestation Day. Yugoslavia holds an Arbor Day in the Spring and an Afforestation Day in the Fall. India celebrates a National Festival of Tree Planting. Although not all versions of the holiday occur on the same day or month, they all represent a similar celebration of tree planting.

Why celebrating holidays with loved ones is important

You may be wondering when is Arbor Day this year? For many years, Arbor Day was celebrated on April 22, J. Sterling Morton’s birthday. Today, National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April. This year in 2018, the event will be on April 27th, 2018.


shovel digging into the dirt

Many holidays celebrate something that has happened in the past, or an individual that has passed away. Arbor Day is special because it celebrates what the future can hold. It shows a responsibility to take care of what we have and plan for future generations. By simply planting a tree, we demonstrate that we believe the tree will produce resources for people and life to come.

All 50 states, Puerto Rico, and some U.S. territories have passed legislation adopting Arbor Day. This year to celebrate, take the time to plant a tree and contribute to the national and international day.

If you are interested in learning more about this great holiday please visit

For more information on the American Forestry Association please visit


Happy Arbor Day 2018!

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