The first guy who ever dragged a Christmas tree into his house might have been asked by his wife, "Why are you bringing a dead tree into the house?"

But whoever started the tradition is well loved by the people over at the Smithsonian.

They have on display 13 brilliantly decorated tree of Christmas at the Museum of History and Technology until Jan. 12.

The big fat 8-foot and 12-foot trees purchased by James R. Buckler, director of horticulture at the Smithsonian, from a farm in Pennsylvania have full root balls and are fed three gallons of water a day.

They stand dolled up like circus elephants, later to be transplanted on the grounds of the Soldiers Home.

"This is our third year," Buckler said. "We plant the trees and I have no idea how many continue to live."

But they look splendid. The "Cookie Tree," which looks smaller than most is decked out with all sorts of brightly frosted cookies. The only turnoff on a Christmas morning might be the 10 fingers with red nail-polish frosting.

The decorating themes include "Companions of Childhood," a tree laden with ornaments celebrating the Year of the Child, inspired by children's literature and history of contemporary comics and television.

Other themes are:

Decoupage," an art style originating in Italy in the 1700s which uses paper cutouts.

"Nature's Bounty," a tree full of flowers and fruits, cones and pods, ornaments of baby's breath, Queen Anne's lace, okra pods and milkweed.

"Homespun Treasures" which represents the work of 200 craftsmen.

"Tree of Paradise" represents Adam and Eve's original sin, making you wonder who wanted to wake up to this on a Christmas morning.

This decoration found its way into French homes in the 15th century. Its small white wafers representing the Holy Eucharist are shaped as stars, angels, flowers and hearts. The tree is loaded with bright red plastic apples, daring someone to reach for one.

The tree representing Brazil is stripped of leaves, the branches wrapped in green paper. The branches of the Swedish tree are loaded with white candles held by paper hearts, making one feel that a big fire extinguisher should be among the gifts beneath the tree.

The German style, dating back to 1494, is distinguished by ornaments drawing on mythology and folklore.

Birds, flowers and boats made of folded colored paper are used for decorations on the Japanese tree.

The tree representing southern Poland is unusual for its chandelier-style decorations. An inverted treetop is hung from the ceiling and adorned with colored eggshells, nutshells, and pine cones.

And -- home at last -- the "American Victorian" seems to have everything anyone ever put on a tree. The ornaments date back to 1870, when the first glass ball appeared.