From its Puritan roots to complaints of rampant commercialism, Christmas around the world is been filled with traditions, old and new. Some date back to 16th-century Germany or even ancient Greek times, while others have caught on only in modern times.
And, among them, Christmas trees are one of the most popular, now all over the world.
Their tradition is long and rich, and has resulted in some modern trees that run the gamut from breathtakingly beautiful, encapsulating everything that Christmas stands for, to something simply weird.
Thus, If you need a little help to get into the holiday spirit this year, get yourself a winter drink with some holiday treats and a tour of the world’s best or most unusual Christmas trees. These towering pines (or sand or bottle piles, in some cases) are decked to the nines and shine brightly for holiday season, from Florida, Brazil, Mexico all the way to Lithuania.
When it comes to Christmas decorations, probably you just can’t beat New York City.
Perhaps the most famous Christmas tree in the world, for more than eight decades, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has stood literally as “a holiday beacon for New Yorkers and visitors alike”.
While the lights, decorations, and stars have changed through the years, visiting the Tree remains a quintessential New York experience.
The Norway spruce is a long-standing tradition dating all the way back to 1933 when construction workers were building Rockefeller Center.
Actually Its story began in 1931 during the Depression-era, when workers at Rockefeller Center pooled their money together to buy a Christmas tree. The men decorated the 6-meters high balsam fir with handmade garlands made by their families, strings of cranberries, and even a few tin cans.
Two years later, Rockefeller Center decided to make the Christmas Tree an annual tradition, and held the very first tree lighting ceremony.
World War II ushered in an era of simple and patriotic designs, including red, white, and blue unlit globes and painted wooden stars. In 1942, no materials essential to the war effort were used to decorate Rockefeller Center, and instead of one large tree, three more modest trees were raised. From 1942 until the end of the war, the Tree went unlit each year due to blackout regulations.
Christmas of 1999 hosted the largest Tree in Rockefeller Center’s history. Hailing from Killingworth, Connecticut, it stood at 30,4 meters tall.
Trees are traditionally donated to Rockefeller Center, which in turn donates the lumber after display.
Until his death in 2009, the late David Murbach, Manager of the Gardens Division of Rockefeller Center, searched for the desired tree in upstate New York and surrounding states, and even Ottawa in Ontario, Canada.
Erik Pauzé, Head Gardener at Rockefeller Center, looks for each year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. He and his team choose each year’s tree based on its “heartiness” and “Christmas tree shape,” as well as its ability to support the heavy ornaments.
Once a tree is selected, a crane supports the tree while it is cut, then moved to a custom telescoping trailer able to transport trees up to 38 m tall, although the narrowness of the streets around Rockefeller Center limits the height of the tree to 30 m.
The tree is then delivered to the city by a local company, Christmas Tree Brooklyn.
Once at Rockefeller Center, the tree is supported by four guy-wires attached at its midpoint and by a steel spike at its base, while scaffolding is erected around the tree to assist workers in hanging about 50,000 multi-colored LED lights and the star top, currently a new crystal star of Swarovski crystal created in 2018 and designed by the renowned architect Daniel Liebeskind. It features 70 spikes and three million crystals with LED lighting spots, and in total it weighs 408 kg!
Traditionally, the tree is put in place in mid November and lit in a public ceremony on the Wednesday evening following Thanksgiving. Since 1997, the lighting has been broadcast live, on NBC’s Christmas in Rockefeller Center telecast.
The tree lighting ceremony is aired at the end of every broadcast, following live entertainment and the tree is lit by the current Mayor of New York City, the CEO of Rockefeller Center and special guests.
An estimated 125 million people visit the attraction each year.
Images from web – Google Research