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.
Christmas is a very important time in the Christian calendar.
Celebrated on December 25th every year, it commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.
While it is traditionally a religious celebration, it has become a popular magical holiday that lasts throughout December and encourages people to spend time with loved ones, engage in acts of charity and have fun.
Of course, it’s no different at the Vatican City, where there is plenty happening over Christmas.
The St. Peter’s Square Christmas tree is an incredible sight to see.
It is erected annually in the Saint Peter’s Square directly in front of St. Peter’s Basilica to celebrate the Christmas holiday season.
The tradition of placing a Christmas tree as well as the life-size Nativity scene in Saint Peter’s Square started in 1982 during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, when the Polish-born Pope introduced the classic northern European symbol of Christmas spirit.
The tradition of erecting a Christmas Tree was celebrated in northern Europe and in Poland, Pope John Paul II’s country of origin, but not in the Vatican at the time.
The first tree came from Italy but, since then, the offering of the Christmas Tree to the Pope has become an honour, and each year the Vatican accepts a tree donated by a different European country or region. Germany, Ukraine, Belgium, and Austria, among other countries, have all bequeathed a home-grown tree to Vatican City, where Christmas celebrations start on December 8th and ends on January 6th.
The unveiling of the Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square kicks off the festive season in the Vatican.
The Christmas tree is installed in the centre of Saint Peter’s Square, together with a nativity scene with seventeen life-size statues that is unveiled on Christmas Eve.
Of these, nine are the original figures donated in 1842 by Saint Vincent Pallotti for the nativity scene in the Roman church of Sant’Andrea della Valle, and the other eight figures were added over the course of the years.
In 2006 the Italian province of Trentino, and the local council of a village of Tesero, have provided a further thirteen sculpted wooden figures and animals, as well as household utensils for the depiction of daily life.
If you really want to experience Christmas at the Vatican, then the Christmas Eve mass is the way to do it. It is the most-watched Christmas mass around the world, and it takes place in the beautiful setting of St. Peter’s Basilica.
There is also Urbi et Orbi on Christmas Day, a papal address and apostolic blessing given by the pope. The Urbi et Orbi happens just twice a year: at Easter, and on Christmas Day, and It takes place in St. Peter’s Square at midday.
This is broadcast worldwide, and It includes greetings in many different languages, in order to be as inclusive as possible of everybody celebrating the festive holiday.
Despite the museums are closed on Christmas Day, so there are no Vatican tours available, you can still visit the city and St. Peter’s Basilica to see the Pope.
There are other Christmas traditions observed at the Vatican that you might not know, including the 24 hours fast prior to Christmas Day, the burning of Yule Logs and decorating rooms and homes with a Ceppo and nativity, locally know as “presepe” or “presepio”. All of these are traditional Italian customs and have been co-opted by the Vatican over the years.
This year’s Christmas tree is a 113-year-old fir that stands at more than 25 meters tall and weighs 8 tons.
It arrived at St. Peter’s Square on November 23 and It comes from Andalo, a small village in the Dolomites of Paganella, in Northern Italy.
Over the past 39 years, the Vatican has seen many kinds of trees from different parts of Europe.
Take a look at where the past Christmas Trees at Vatican have come from.
2020 – Kočevje, Slovenia
2019 – Veneto, Italy
2018 – Pordenone, Italy
2017 – Gołdap, Poland
2016 – Trento, Italy
2015 – Ehenfeld bei Hirschau, Oberpfalz, Bavaria, Germany
2014 – Calabria, Southern Italy
2013 – Waldmünchen, Bavaria, Germany
2012 – Pescopennataro, Italy
2011 – Zakarpattia Oblast, Ukraine
2010 – Bolzano, South Tyrol, northern Italy
2009 – Ardennes forests near Spa, Wallonia, Belgium
2008 – Municipality of Gutenstein, Lower Austria, Austria
2007 – Val Badia, in the Dolomites mountains, Italy
2006 – Taverna, Calabria, Italy
2005 – Afiesl, Upper Austria, Austria
2004 – Pinzolo, Trento region, Alps mountains, Italy
2003 – Pré-Saint-Didier, Valle D’Aosta, Italy
2002 – Gorski kotar, Croatia
2001 – Transylvania, Romania
2000 – Carinthia, Austria
1999 – Moravka, Czech Republic
1998 – Schwarzwald, Germany
1997 – Zakopane, Tatra Mountains, Poland
1996 – Kočevje, Slovenia
1995 – Obertraubling, Regensburg, Germany
1994 – Žilina, Slovakia
1993 – Graz-Seckau, Styria, Austria
1992 – South Tyrol, Italy
1991 – Vorarlberg, Austria
1990 – Ponte di Legno, Brescia, Italy
1989 – Schärding, Upper Austria, Austria
1988 – Cadore, Italy
1987 – Carinthia, Austria
1986 – Toblach, South Tyrol
1985 – South Tyrol, Italy
1984 – Waldmünchen, Bavaria, Germany
1983 – Tyrol, Austria
1982 – Alban Hills, Italy
Images from web – Google Research