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When is Arbor Day?

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Couple planting tree
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Question: When is Arbor Day?
Answer: National Arbor Day in the United States is the last Friday in April. It is a day set aside for the purpose of planting trees, which the Arbor Day Foundation calls "an act of optimism and kindness, a labor of love, and a commitment to stewardship."

When Was the First Arbor Day?
The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska in 1872 when J. Sterling Morton, a newspaper editor who hailed originally from Detroit, persuaded his fellow Nebraskans to designate April 22 as an annual day to plant the trees they so badly needed for windbreaks, erosion control, fuel, building materials, and shade from the hot prairie sun. More than a million trees were planted on that first Arbor Day.

Is Arbor Day Always on the Same Date?
In addition to National Arbor Day, all 50 states have their own Arbor Day celebrations. And while some states have adopted the national date, many others have chosen dates that coincide with the best time to plant trees in their regions.

Southern states are more likely to celebrate Arbor Day in winter or early spring, while Northern states tend to choose dates in late spring or early summer. Florida and Louisiana both celebrate Arbor Day on the third Friday in January, for example, while Vermont and North Dakota celebrate Arbor Day on the first Friday in May. Hawaii, in a category all its own, celebrates Arbor Day on the first Friday in November.

Is Arbor Day Celebrated Internationally?
Despite its origins as a U.S. holiday, Arbor Day is also celebrated in many nations around the world, and even more countries have national tree-planting observances that are not called Arbor Day. For example:

  • China celebrates Arbor Day, or Tree Planting Day, as a public holiday on March 12, when the Chinese also commemorate the 1925 death of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the Father of the Nation.

  • New Zealand celebrates Arbor Day on June 5, which coincides with World Environment Day.

  • In Brazil, Arbor Day is September 21, to coincide with the beginning of spring in the Southern Hemisphere.

  • The United Kingdom celebrates National Tree Week at the start of tree-planting season in November.

Where Can I Learn More about Arbor Day?
To find out more about Arbor Day where you live, and around the world, visit the interactive map of the United States and the list of countries worldwide that celebrate some form of Arbor Day, both hosted by the Arbor Day Foundation—and plan your own Arbor Day celebration.

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