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.
If you want to celebrate Christmas without the holly-decked halls, traditional desserts, and shiny-nosed reindeer then Christmas in Lisbon should be high on your list. While this seaside city definitely won’t be covered in snow, the Lisbon Christmas lights and the tallest Christmas tree in Europe keep the festivities alive, alongside the presépios (or nativity scenes) that are scattered all over city.
Also the Christmas treats are somewhat different here, with King Cake replacing Christmas pudding and bacalhau da consoada (salted cod) instead of turkey, but isn’t it time to try something new?
Without snowmen and frost-covered boughs, Lisbon opts for the extravagant when it comes to holiday decorations. And, above all, it think big, as the city has made its reputation in hosting the tallest Christmas tree in all of Europe, which has reached a record-breaking 76 metres in past years.
The artificial Christmas tree is erected annually in Portugal’s capital city since 2004.
From 2005, when it was an entrant in the Guinness World Records, the tree boasts the title of Europe’s tallest Christmas tree.
The height of the tree varies every year and it was the highest in 2007 at 76 metres.
The tree was erected for the first time in Lisbon in 2004 in the Comercio Square, in 2007 it left the Portuguese capital for Porto, the country’s second largest city, while in 2008 it returned to Lisbon but to the Edward VII Park.
The Praça do Comércio is the most popular plaza in Lisbon, and one of the highlights of the city. It is surrounded on three sides by distinctive yellow Pombaline styled buildings, with the southern side facing out over the Tejo Estuary.
An illustrious statue dedicated of King Joseph I stands at the centre of the plaza, while at the northern side is the triumphant Rua Augusta Arch (Arco da Rua Augusta), that leads into central Lisbon.
It was the historic commercial centre of Lisbon, and reflected the wealth and ambitions of Portugal during the late 18th century. It was here that captains and merchants would plan perilous sea-voyages to Brazil, India and South East Asia and then trade their goods on returning.
It was constructed as the symbolic entrance into Lisbon from these lands, and originally, Portugal’s most important palace, the Paço da Ribeira, stood on there, but this royal complex was destroyed by the devasting earthquake and tsunami in 1755.
The plaza was also the location of that King Carlos I and his son Luis Filipe were assassinated in 1908, which ultimately lead to the fall of the Portuguese monarchy in 1910.
The plaza also boasts numerous fine restaurants, including Lisbon’s oldest restaurant, the Martinho da Arcada, which dates from 1782!
In 2007, the Lisbon Christmas tree and the Christmas tree in Bucharest, Romania, both at 76 metres high, competed for the title of the tallest Christmas tree in Europe, but the Lisbon Christmas Tree kept its title as no Christmas tree was erected in Bucharest in 2009.
Images from web – Google Research