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.
During Christmas season, Paris, the city of lights truly lives up to its name.
The magic of Christmas takes hold of the French capital a few weeks before the holidays and until mid of January with its monuments and streets bearing their festive glittery costumes, giving locals and not the pleasure of an unforgettable sight.
A stunning four-story Christmas tree is placed inside the Galeries Lafayette department store each year, and it always has a different theme to surprise and delight shoppers.
Past themes have included “From another planet,” featuring meteoric decorations, and “An Amazing Arctic Christmas,” which was made entirely of paper by French artist Lorenzo Papace.
Originally, the Galeries Lafayette started illuminating their facade in 1912 for specific events.
But it wasn’t until the 20s / 30s that it became recurring (and spectacular) and today, the store’s Christmas decorations have spread inside and out and, along with the façade illumination, the store exhibits epic Christmas trees and work-of-art window displays.
As of 1945, the Galeries Lafayette will systematically set a theme and get talented designers and creators such as Raymond Peynet, Albert Dubout, Jean Effel, Pierre Pothier and many others, to unleash their imagination and talent to produce incredible installations for holiday season.
Each November, Galeries Lafayette unveils the new theme for the Christmas to come and invites an artist to come and launch the illuminations.
Actually, the Christmas celebrations started in 1920 with the annual internal Christmas party.
The employees were invited with their children, to enjoy an on-stage show and admire the Christmas tree, both of which were placed just in front of the stately staircase, under the dome.
From there on, the Galeries Lafayette would dress up for the holiday season every year, looking dazzling inside out.
And what once was an intimate Christmas party became one of the most visited spots in Paris.
Every year, one can discover an ever so exuberant sparkling tree hanging from the glittering Art Nouveau dome.
Going back in time, in Christmas 1976 a giant aluminum tree reveals the Galeries Lafayette’s boldness. A 23-meters high structure, weighing 1,6 tons and bearing 400 square meter of aluminum, is parading in the great hall of the boulevard Haussmann’s store! Made out of 160 silvers baubles, the Christmas tree required 2 full months of work from the “avions René Cousinet” company. Mr. Meyer’s idea, carried out by Mr. Adnet and Mr. Gauchet, breaks with the tradition of displaying a Christmas tree on the façade.
But this is also the first year the fir is placed at the center of the great hall, and the tradition of hanging the tree under the dome is born.
Christmas 2012 is “Ball of the Century” with Louis Vuitton, and the 100th anniversary of the glass dome is celebrated with a huge Swarovski Christmas tree created by Hilton McConnico. The 21-meters high tree is decorated with 120 brilliant-cut ornaments and topped with a 9-meters chandelier made of more than 5 000 smaller Swarovski crystals. 100 stones and a 5-meters wide star on its top, shimmer and light up the Galeries Lafayette’s dome.
And It is the biggest tree in Europe!
Christmas 2014 instead was “A Monstrous Christmas” with Jerry Hall, with monsters took over the store that year and turned the huge Christmas tree upside down!
A bewildering but really enchanting sight!
Either way, nowadays, during Christmas, Galeries Lafayette has become a mandatory stop and is visited, every year, by more than ten million visitors. The planning and production of the displays take nearly a year from start to store with dozens of artisans working on bringing the conceptual sketches to life. It starts with choosing the theme and the story then of course, the different craftspeople working on the project: model makers, designers, decorators, carpenters, electricians, window dresser and the incredible puppet master. The huge momentum goes all the way to England where the sceneries are created.
This year, the beautiful Christmas tree, inaugurated on November 17, is decorated with the toys featuring a fantastic fairy tale, complete with an astronaut Santa and a futuristic toy rabbit. Every 30 minutes, the stores goes dark and visitors can enjoy sound and light show during which the toys come to life.
As is tradition at the Galeries Lafayette, the windows of the store are decorated with stunning automatons on the same motif.
Images from Web – Google Research